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Judge & Attorney Biographies

Pallotti, Francis A.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 133, pages 739 - 741

Judge Francis A. Pallotti died at the St. Raphael Hospital, New Haven, on December 21, 1946, ending a distinguished career as a lawyer, public servant and jurist. He was born at Hartford on August 21, 1886. His parents, Nicholas and Maria Antonia Pallotti, came to Hartford from Italy in 1866. He attended the public schools of Hartford and then entered Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts, where he graduated with the class of 1908. In 1911, he was graduated from the Yale Law School.

As a youth at Holy Cross College and the Yale Law School his warm personality and rare character endeared him to his classmates and marked him as one who was to achieve success in the years that followed. At Holy Cross College he was an outstanding athlete and earned his letters in football and baseball. As indicative of his ability as an athlete, it is worthy to note that the late Major Cavanaugh, who was then coach of football at Holy Cross College and later at Boston College and Fordham University, named Judge Pallotti on his All-Time Football Team. This tribute Judge Pallotti cherished very highly in the late years of his life. At the Yale Law School he was elected president of his class, and after graduation he presided at all the class reunions.

Upon his graduation from the Yale Law School he commenced the practice of law in the office of the late John W. Coogan in Hartford and continued as an active practitioner until his appointment as a judge of the Superior Court on July 6, 1945.

On April 12, 1915, Judge Pallotti married Mary Agnes Verdi, of New Haven, who survives. He is also survived by a son, Nicholas A. Pallotti, who served for four years in World War II and who is now a student at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and by a daughter, Rosemary Leone.

Throughout his life, Judge Pallotti took an active interest in the affairs of his city, state and country. He served the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, with the utmost honesty and distinction, in many and varied offices. From 1911 to 1917 he was a member of the board of street commissioners of the city of Hartford; from 1917 to 1921 he was a judge of the Hartford Police Court; from 1922 to 1928 he was secretary of the state of Connecticut; and from 1938 until July 6, 1945, when he was appointed to the Superior Court bench, he was attorney general of the state.

He was a member of the National Association of Attorney Generals and served this association as president during the year 1943. He was also a member of many business, social and civic organizations. The ones which were closest to his heart, however, were those which afforded him opportunity to be of help to others. The Disabled Veterans' Camp Fund, of which he was chairman, St. Francis Hospital, of which he was director, and St. Anthony's Church of Hartford, of which he was trustee, always played a prominent part in his life, for they presented to him the greatest opportunity to help those in need of spiritual as well as physical and financial aid.

Judge Pallotti considered the practice of law a privilege, and in his career as a lawyer he was faithful and loyal to his clients, just to his adversaries, and frank and open with the court. He considered the holding of public office a trust, and in the discharge of his duties in the many offices which he held he was always moved by a desire to do those things which were for the public good. As a judge of the Hartford Police Court, he was kind and considerate to the unfortunate who appeared before him and who deserved consideration, yet he was firm with the hardened criminal and those who habitually violated rules of decency as well as man-made laws. As secretary of state, he acted in a manner which made those who had occasion to deal with him feel that he was a true servant of the people. As attorney general, he gave of his time and energy without stint and was often to be found working in his office in the late hours of the night. His office was always open to all who sought his advice, and no one, whatever his station in life may have been, ever found it difficult to see him. In his brief career as a judge of the Superior Court, he earned the respect and affection of his colleagues on the bench as well as the respect of the members of the bar. His decisions were just, and his treatment of those who appeared before him was such that it inspired in them confidence in and respect for our courts.

It is difficult to reduce to writing in a memorial the many noble characteristics possessed by Judge Pallotti. Perhaps the outstanding of these was his desire to help those in need and his devotion to duty. No person in need was ever turned away from his office. On many occasions he served clients in important litigation without compensation. He contributed liberally in order to help boys obtain an education, and on many occasions he paid the tuition of a number of boys attending college without their knowing of his contributions. His devotion to duty could only be surpassed by his devotion to his family, and this was best exemplified by the fact that in the last days of his life, though sick and physically weak, he persisted in holding court. He completed his short calendar work in New Haven in the afternoon of Friday, December 20, 1946; he was driven to his home in Hartford; and on the morning of December 21, 1946, he was taken to the St. Raphael Hospital, where he died in the same evening.

Judge Pallotti was a firm believer in our democratic way of life. In his passing, the state of Connecticut has lost a good citizen, a learned judge, and a sincere public servant.

*Prepared by Frank Covello, of the Hartford bar. 

Palmer, Aaron J.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 174, pages 812 - 815

Judge Aaron J. Palmer of the Superior Court suffered a stroke at his home on August 30, 1971 and died at the Middlesex Hospital in Middletown on that same evening. He was sixty-seven years old.

Judge Palmer was born in New York City on August 13, 1904. His parents, Isadore and Bethia Clemens Palmer, came to live in Middletown when Aaron was four years old. He attended the old Central Grammar School and the Middletown High School, where he was graduated with the class of 1921. He entered Wesleyan University and was graduated with the class of 1925. During his college years, he was the Middletown correspondent for the Hartford Courant and the Associated Press. He was active in athletics and an exceptionally good basketball player . Being redheaded, he early acquired the nickname "Red" Palmer by which he was affectionately known to his school and college mates of those days. He was a good student and popular with his fellows. His personality was a likable one and attracted friends and admirers.

After graduating from Wesleyan, Judge Palmer entered Harvard Law School. There his roommate and friend was the Honorable Erwin N. Griswold who later became Dean of the Harvard Law School and onetime Solicitor General of the United States. After graduation from law school, where he made an excellent record, Judge Palmer was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1929 and started the practice of law in Hartford with the Honorable Saul Berman, then referee in bankruptcy for the District of Connecticut. In 1935, Judge Palmer opened an office in Middletown. At the time of his appointment to the Court of Common Pleas in 1960, he was a law partner of the Honorable John F. Pickett. Judge Palmer was an excellent lawyer. He worked hard and prepared his cases thoroughly both as to the law and as to the facts. He acquired a substantial clientele.

Judge Palmer early became active in politics, aligning with the Democratic party. He was an astute politician and an excellent organizer. He served as judge of the local City Court for two terms. He was also city attorney, notably during the terms of Charles Schaefer, a leading citizen of the town who personally valued young Palmer's legal ability and sound judgment. Throughout the years that Judge Palmer practiced law, he was active in public affairs and in the local and state bar associations.

Judge Palmer was a member of the Democratic town committee from 1935 to 1960 and was a treasurer of the local party for twenty years. He served a term on the Middletown Housing Authority under Mayor Herbert Bell, and later was a member of the Middletown Personnel Appeals Board. He served from 1952 to 1961 on the Middletown Board of Education and the Middletown Parking Authority. He belonged to the Middletown Bar Association, at one time being its president, and to the Middlesex County Bar, and the Connecticut State Bar and the American Bar Association. He was a busy man.

In 1960, on nomination of Governor Abraham Ribicoff, Aaron J. Palmer was appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Three years later Governor John Dempsey, recognizing Judge Palmer's ability as a judicial officer, named him a judge of the Superior Court to fill the vacancy in January, 1963 upon the retirement of Judge Thomas E. Troland of New London. Judge Palmer made an excellent judge. He listened to the evidence and arguments of counsel carefully and patiently. He studied the cases which he tried with great care and rendered his judgment promptly. He was courteous and kind to jurors and witnesses so that their appearance in court would not be an ordeal but a pleasant and challenging experience.

When first appointed to the bench, Judge Palmer was required to give up a lucrative practice, but he said of his judicial office: "This is a job that means something. Sure, my income will not be as great, but every lawyer has a natural inclination to aspire to be a judge. It's a challenging task, but what else is there in life if your income is sufficient and you're doing something worthwhile?"

He was a man of great courage and calm, cool judgment. The troubled decade of 1960 to 1970 presented many difficult problems to the courts. Judge Palmer was holding a criminal term at New Haven. Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panthers, had been indicted on a murder-kidnapping-conspiracy charge involving the death of Alex Rackley, a member of the Black Panthers whose dead body had been found in Middlefield. Judge Palmer conducted the pretrial proceedings. These criminal proceedings received much public attention not only in this state but across the country. The case evoked so much publicity that it became apparent that there would be demonstrations and possibly other action which would disrupt the proper conduct to the hearings and the later trial.

Judge Palmer, without precedents in dealing with such a situation, formulated rules for the conduct of these hearings and for the later trial. The rules, among other things, prevented lawyers for either side from making extrajudicial statements to newsmen and limited the scope of demonstrations around the courthouse. These rules were followed throughout all of the proceedings pending at that time and subsequently and successfully withstood attacks, on the ground that they violated constitutional principles, all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Palmer believed that in spite of the turmoil a jury would be competent to make, and would make, a final determination of guilt or innocence solely on the evidence produced in the courtroom.

Judge Palmer was the first Connecticut judge to allow a defendant charged with a capital offense to have a full hearing for admission to bail. Relying on procedures he researched from other states, Judge Palmer ruled that the prosecution in a capital criminal case had the burden of showing why a defendant should not be released on bail. He noted that the constitution of Connecticut in article 1, section 8, stated that every defendant is entitled to bail except in capital offences "where the proof is evident or the presumption great." He ruled that the prosecution must show that the proof was evident and the presumption great.

A very short time before his death, Judge Palmer, at a session of the Superior Court in Middletown, enjoined the so-called Powder Ridge Rock Festival in Middlefield. This festival proposed to bring to that area a large number of young people for an affair which very probably would become an orgy. After a hearing, he declared the festival a nuisance and a violation of the zoning regulations of the town of Middlefield, overruling the promoters' arguments that their rights under the first amendment to the federal constitution would be violated by any injunction.

On May 29, 1943 Judge Palmer and Alice M. Murphy, a well-known and attractive young woman in Middletown, were married. They resided first on Lawn Avenue and later on Mansfield Terrace. Their home was always a hospitable one. Their married life was a very, very happy one.

Judge Palmer's brethren at the bench and at the bar, and the many with whom he was associated in public affairs and in social events, will remember him always as an excellent lawyer, an able and courageous judge, and a devout, warm and friendly man.

Ye'Hai Zichro Baruch.

(May his memory be a blessing and inspiration to all.)

*Prepared by Hon Raymond E. Baldwin, of Middletown. 

Palmer, Joseph M.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix pages 34 - 35

Was a native of New-Milford; commenced the study of law in 1808, under D.S. Boardman, Esq., and subsequently, under Noah B. Benedict, Esq. And Judge Chapman; was admitted to the bar in 1809, in Fairfield County, and commenced practice at Woodbury, where he continued until 1816; when he removed to Fredericktown, Md., and now sustains a high character in his profession.

Palmer, Richard N.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 225, page iii

Appointed to the Supreme Court March 17, 1993, to take effect March 18, 1993. 

Pardee, Dwight W.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 63, pages 607 - 608

DWIGHT WHITEFIELD PARDEE, Ex-Judge of the Supreme Court of this state, died at Hartford, where he resided, on the sixth day of October, 1893, in the seventy-second year of his age.

He was born in Bristol in this state in 1822, and was the son of Jared W. Pardee, a prominent physician in that part of the state. At the age of fourteen he entered Trinity College at Hartford, graduating in 1840. After graduation he pursued a course of legal study, in part with Hon. Isaac Toucey, afterwards Attorney-General of the United States, and in part at the Yale Law School, and on being admitted to the bar settled in the city of Hartford, being for a while in partnership with Mr. Toucey. In 1863 he was elected a judge of the Superior Court, and in 1873 of the Supreme Court. In the latter court he served two terms of eight years each, retiring at the end of his second term in the sixty-eighth year of his age. While at the bar he was elected for two successive years to the state senate from the Hartford District. In 1878 Trinity College conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Judge Pardee had in a high degree the judicial faculty. He was never embarrassed by the complicated facts that overweight so many of the cases that go to our higher courts. He was able to precipitate, as by the touch of an alchemist, the questions of law which they held in solution. With a quickness of apprehension, often thought incompatible with a proper judicial deliberativeness, he had a remarkable soundness of practical judgment and a great sense of justice. Though never led astray by any fondness for speculation, he had a rare faculty of dealing with novel questions and exploring new regions of legal inquiry. He had less book-learning than some less able judges, but had a clear comprehension of legal principles and a thorough mastery of the law as a science. His opinions are written in language of great condensation and vigor, often epigrammatic and quaint in its incisiveness and point, always clear, always freighted with meaning, and without being in the slightest degree ambitious or inclined to be ornate, yet of a high literary quality. No verbiage ever burdened anything which he wrote or uttered; no weak word or thought ever came from his lips or his pen.

He was a very modest man and of a retiring disposition. He rarely appeared upon a public platform or took an active part in public meetings. This was true of his early years at the bar as well as of his later on the bench. He was quiet in his demeanor, not at all self-assertive or demonstrative, positive in his views but never aggressive in declaring them, a shrewd and intelligent observer of public men and public affairs, but keeping his comments, sometimes caustic, always keen and racy, for private conversation. He had a fine sense of humor and was often a witty contributor to the entertainment of a dinner party or a circle of friends, but it was generally by way of reply to the remarks of others and upon the suggestion of the moment. He was never a talker in the ordinary sense of the word.

Judge Pardee was a man of the highest moral tone. No one ever imputed to him an unworthy motive. He was a man of absolute and most scrupulous integrity and had the unlimited confidence of the public as such. He was a liberal giver to worthy charities; his gifts, often large, being made where practicable in a way to avoid public observation. No man could be more free from ostentation or pretense; none of plainer or simpler habits.

He was tall and slender, and in the later years of his life his abundant hair and beard, whitened by age, gave him a striking appearance upon the bench and in the street. His dark eye was one of remarkable richness and depth.

He was a devoted member of the Episcopal Church, and a faithful and devout attendant upon its religious services. At the time of his death he was senior warden of St. John's Parish in Hartford. He took great interest in Trinity College and was for many years one of its trustees, and made it the ultimate legatee of a large part of his estate.

Judge Pardee was married in 1847 to Miss Henrietta Porter, daughter of Solomon Porter, for many years one of the prominent citizens of Hartford. She died in 1863. Their only child had died a short time before. He never married again. His family consisted for the rest of his life of his two unmarried sisters, with later a sister who was a widow. The three sisters survive him and in his death have sustained an overwhelming affliction.


The death of Judge Pardee gave to the whole community a sense of loss, but to the writer of this imperfect sketch of him it brought a great personal bereavement and sorrow. We had been pleasantly acquainted from our early manhood as brethren at the Hartford bar, with a high esteem for him on my part, but during the sixteen years that he was a member of the Supreme Court, I being then its reporter, there grew up between us a very fond friendship. To no one, outside of my own family, did I look for companionship in my declining years so much as to him. It is with a sense almost of desolation that I think of his returnless absence. And it is among my pleasantest thoughts that we shall soon meet in a renewed and abiding companionship. J. H. [John Hooker] 


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 41, page iii

Elected at the same session of the General Assembly [May 1873] to fill the vacancy caused by the promotion of Judge Park.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 58, page iii

Retired upon expiration of term, February 9, 1890.

Pardee, Henry E.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 57, pages 591 - 592

HENRY EDWARDS PARDEE died at his residence in New Haven, January 4th, 1889. He was born in Trumbull, Fairfield County, Conn., August 11th, 1831. He attended the public schools in his native town until about fourteen years of age, when he went to New Haven for the purpose of obtaining better educational facilities than Trumbull then afforded. From this time he supported himself by his own efforts, living for some years in the family of the late Judge Simeon Baldwin. His preparation for college was had at the Lancasterian School and Gen. Russell's Collegiate and Commercial Institute. His studies were not uninterrupted. He taught in the district schools of his native town during portions of two years, and in 1850 entered the Lancasterian School as assistant to John E. Lovell, where he remained until 1852, when he entered Yale College. He was graduated in 1856, and was elected secretary of his class, which position he held at the time of his decease. After graduation he taught for three years in the Collegiate and Commercial Institute, devoting a portion of his time to the study of the law in the Yale Law School and in the offices of Hon. Henry B. Harrison and the Hon. Edward I. Sanford. He was admitted to the bar March 8th, 1860.

From his first coming to New Haven until his admission to the bar his life was one of strenuous work. By teaching and other service he obtained the means for his college education, and prepared himself for his career at the bar. His ability, habits of industry and high character brought him friends, and he soon obtained a good measure of professional success.

He took an active interest in public affairs, and from 1861 to 1863 was a member of the Court of Common Council of the city. He was elected prosecuting grand-juror of the town in 1863 and 1864, and from 1863 to 1866 was clerk of the City Court, and for five years was a member of the Board of Compensation. He held the office of City Attorney from June, 1869 to June, 1871. In the latter year he was elected judge of the Court of Common Pleas of New Haven County, which office he held until September, 1873. He was judge of the City Court of New Haven from 1879 to 1881.

About this time his health became impaired, and he rarely thereafter appeared in the courts, although he kept up his office practice. For some time he suffered acutely from heart disease, but continued to visit his office until a few days before his death.

In 1884 he was married to Fannie B., daughter of Dr. Bassett of Birmingham, who survives him.

His pastor, Rev. Dr. Munger, said of him in a discourse:- "His career was such an one as comes from good natural abilities, good education, good character, an unusual degree of good common sense, a passionate sense of justice, great kindness and a disposition to serve, a special degree of trustworthiness, and an indefatigable spirit of work."

*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Johnson T. Platt, Esq., of the New Haven bar.

Pardee, William S.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 92, pages 711 - 712

WILLIAM SCRANTON PARDEE, born in New Haven September 16th, 1860, died there June 18th, 1918. There his ancestors had resided since New Haven existed and there he passed his entire life. In 1882 he graduated from Yale College, and two years later from the Yale Law School, after studying in the office of one of its distinguished professors, Simeon E. Baldwin, later Chief Justice and Governor of the Commonwealth. For the first eight years he was associated with the writer in a diversified practice, including that of associate town counsel—a most congenial service—which he performed with assiduity and enthusiasm. It was a little later, while practicing alone, that he became interested as a lawyer in a line of work which ultimately led him out of his profession but into a competence. After a few years of general practice with William A. Wright he found that his business interests, which by this time had become quite extensive, required all his time and he then terminated his career as a practicing lawyer.

Mr. Pardee represented New Haven in the lower House of the State legislature in 1913, but this was the only elective office he ever filled. His time, ability and resources were, however, freely given to public matters, and he was keenly interested in the agitation for increased representation for the larger communities in the State, both in the legislature and in the conventions of the leading political parties. He advocated the constitutional convention of 1902 and was the author of the first Act adopted in Connecticut to prevent corrupt practices at elections. He originated the novel idea of making several towns out of the territory and population of each of the larger municipalities of the State and in this way, by multiplying the units, of increasing the representation in the lower House of the General Assembly. That this idea was not carried out in legislation in no way detracts from the merit of its author nor from the respect due to his courage in fathering a seemingly hopeless cause. Indeed it may be fair to assume that the change effected in the representation in the Senate of this State was in a large measure due to the movements referred to with which he was identified.

As a lawyer he needed no code of ethics for his guidance. His instinctive sense of right ever led him to the right road. As a man and citizen, disinterested devotion to the welfare of others was one of his controlling characteristics. His generosity and timely subscription of a substantial amount were instrumental in getting the further sums needed to assure the erection of the Bela Pratt statue of Nathan Hale on Yale’s Campus. Of the fortune he had accumulated he gave by far the greater part—and in fact the whole of it not given to near relatives—amounting to about one fourth of a million dollars, to public purposes. He passed away as he had lived. He labored for the community, and gave to the people, for their benefit, the savings of his lifetime. He was an honor to our profession and an ornament to the community he loved. May we not hope that his example will endure as a model for those who are to come, both in the profession and outside of it.

*Prepared by James P. Pigott, Esq., of the New Haven County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.

Park, John D.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 68, pages 591 - 592

JOHN DUANE PARK was born in Preston in New London County, on the 26th day of April, 1819, and died at Norwich, where he had spent his life, on the 4th day of August, 1896, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. He was admitted to the bar of New London County in 1847, and commenced the practice of his profession in Norwich. In 1854 he was elected by the General Assembly to the judgeship of the County Court of that county, and in 1855 was elected a judge of the Superior Court. In 1864 he was elected a judge of the Supreme Court, and in 1874 the chief justice of the court, continuing in that office until 1889, when he reached the age of seventy and was retired under the constitutional limitation. Upon his retirement he was made a state referee - the General Assembly then in session creating the office for his benefit. This office was for life, a moderate salary being attached to it. It has since been bestowed upon other judges of the Supreme Court retiring after long service under the constitutional limitation. Judge Park was thus in judicial life, making no account of the final refereeship, for thirty-five years, a term of judicial service rarely, if ever, equalled in the case of any other of our state judges. In 1878 he received from the Yale University the degree of Doctor of Laws.

When Judge Park entered on his judicial life he had acquired but a very limited legal practice and probably would never have attained a very high success at the bar. He had a commanding figure and a great power of endurance, but his mind was slow in its movements, and he was wholly without grace of speech or manner. Withal he had but a very limited knowledge of law. He never became a man of book knowledge. He had, however, a sound practical judgment and strong common sense. He listened patiently to the arguments of counsel and learned law from the administration of it. He absorbed it from the constant legal atmosphere in which he lived. What he had thus laboriously learned he always remembered, and where he made a mistake he never made it again. He thus gathered up out of his own experience a store of legal knowledge that was more ready to his hand as he needed it than knowledge acquired wholly or mainly from the study of books. He had a strong sense of justice, and having never become an adept in the technicalities of the law he was never inclined to apply them, and indeed had little respect for them. When sitting in the Supreme Court he almost always came to a conclusion in his own mind in the course of the argument, at least in his later years on the bench, and when he met the other judges in consultation he generally expressed and often adhered to the conclusion thus reached. Of his opinions when fully formed he was very tenacious. Yet he had no pride of opinion. He clung to an opinion when formed because it was the conviction of his mind, and not in the slightest degree because it was his own. When he dissented from the prevailing view taken it was most often where the equities of the case seemed to demand a decision which some technical rule of law seemed to forbid. A striking illustration of this is found in the case of Dickerson's Appeal from Probate, 55 Conn. Reps. p. 223, where the established rule that a will speaks from the death of the testator carried a portion of the property of the testator in a different direction from that which he clearly intended. All the other judges regarded this rule as applying to and deciding the case, while he thought the equities of the case could be sustained in disregard of the rule, and not only dissented from their view in the discussion, but afterwards filed a vigorous dissenting opinion.

Judge Park was of a most kindly disposition, never losing his temper and never failing in courtesy to the counsel who appeared before him. He never as chief justice showed any pride of office; indeed he seemed to the profession not to have a sufficient sense of the dignity of his high office. He enjoyed greatly the society of his brother judges when they met in the Supreme Court or for consultation, and of his professional brethren when he met them at the sessions of the Superior Court. Yet, while enjoying greatly the humor of others, he had no wit or humor of his own, nor any ready anecdote for their amusement. His pleasant home at Norwich was always open to his professional friends, who never failed of a welcome when they called, and here his fellow judges frequently met around his hospitable table when a session of the Supreme Court brought them to the town. Judge Park was far from being an ideal chief justice. Our state has rarely, if ever, had a judge of its highest court, much less a chief justice, of so limited early education, and so little culture. Roger Sherman perhaps had as little of both, but he was a man of that over-mastering ability that knows no conditions. Judge Park, like him, but without his genius, rose above all his disadvantages, and wholly out of his natural qualities, by faithful application to his judicial duties, built up a strong judicial character and reputation, and retired, when he reached the bound of judicial life, with the high respect of the profession and of the public.

Judge Park was married in 1864 to Miss Emma W. Allen of Middlebury, Vermont, who died in 1884, leaving no children, a daughter born in 1864 having died in infancy. He never married again. He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church and a man of consistent christian life.

*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Mr. John Hooker, the former reporter of the court.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 32, page iii

Elected by the General Assembly at its May session 1864, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Sanford.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 41, page iii

Elected at the May Session of the General Assembly, 1873, to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of Chief Justice Seymour. 


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 57, page iv

Retired under constitutional limitation as to age, April 25th, 1889.

Parmelee, Vine R.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 204, page 815

1894 - 1987

The Hon. Vine R. Parmelee, who served as a judge of the Superior Court from 1960 to 1964, died July 9, 1987, in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 92.

Judge Parmelee was born in New Haven on August 1, 1894. He studied at the American University in Beaune, France, and then studied law at private law offices in Connecticut, interrupting his studies to serve with the United States Army in 1916 in the Mexican Border Campaign and in World War I. He moved to Windsor after being discharged from the service and continued his legal studies. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1921.

Judge Parmelee engaged in the private practice of law in Hartford from 1921 to 1941. He also served as a judge of the Windsor Town Court from 1929 to 1941.

He became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1941 and served in that capacity until his appointment to the Superior Court nineteen years later. He also served as secretary to the state Board of Pardons from 1925 to 1960.

Parskey, Leo

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 196, page 815 - 817


​June 4, 1985

Justice Leo Parskey came to the bench in 1965, twenty years ago, after having served his country in the army air force during the second World War and after having thereafter undertaken a variety of positions of responsibility and leadership in state and local government. He sat on the Superior Court and on its Appellate Session from 1965 to 1980, and for the last five years he has been an Associate Justice of this court. Upon reaching the mandatory age of retirement on the twenty-second of this month, he will become a constitutional state trial referee.

During his twenty years on the bench, Justice Parskey has written more than two hundred judicial opinions of which more than two thirds represent the opinion of the Supreme Court of this state. This is an impressive record of a long career devoted to public service. But the statistics alone, although they constitute an admirable, objective measure of achievement, do not record the more important subjective standard by which performance as a judge can be measured. Let me take this opportunity to state what everyone knows who has ever had the good fortune to meet Justice Parskey.

Justice Parskey is the very model of a judge. He exemplifies the qualities of learning and wisdom and commitment to which every good judge aspires. As a trial court judge, as a member of the Appellate Session, as a member of this court, he has left his mark on the development of the law and that mark is the mark of excellence.

I have time to allude only briefly to the myriad of subjects that Justice Parskey's opinions have addressed with scholarly care. Before he joined this court, he wrote eloquently about the relationship between plea bargains and the right to insist on a jury trial, and about the limitations that a pluralistic, democratic society can constitutionally impose on inflammatory speech. In this court, he has written for the majority on important civil cases concerning legal ethics, housing for the poor, the budgetary authority of local government officials and the constitutionality of state benefit plans for state employees. On the criminal side, he has written landmark opinions on the constitutional requirements for a jury array, on the role of statutes of limitations in criminal proceedings, on investigative grand juries, on the admissibility of confessions and the law of criminal contempt. In significant criminal cases of recent months, he has reminded us of the distinction between inadvertent prosecutorial oversight which is often remediable and deliberate prosecutorial misconduct that may fundamentally undermine a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial.

Justice Parskey's opinions, like those of any judge of independent mind, have occasionally been controversial, as in the last two instances to which I have just referred, but Justice Parskey has played an enormously important collegial role on our Supreme Court. This court shares a commitment to having its opinions represent, whenever possible, the views of the court as a whole rather than those of individual justices. Time and again, Justice Parskey has found a way to bridge disagreements, to reshape draft opinions, his own and those of others, in order to narrow rather than to exacerbate the conflicts that naturally arise out of the conscientious pursuit of legitimate but conflicting goals. We have all been enriched by his unparalleled knowledge of our case law and by his indefatigable curiosity about new ideas and developments elsewhere. At the same time, Justice Parskey's decisions reflect not only his intellectual rigor but also his sensitivity to the concerns of all litigants and his commitment to forging flexible solutions to difficult problems.

I cannot conclude these brief remarks concerning Justice Parskey's prodigious contributions to the development of the law without adverting, at least briefly, to one other notable aspect of his judicial career, his felicity of expression.

Justice Parskey's opinions have enriched the pages of the law reports by innumerable, highly quotable observations about the law. For example, Justice Parskey has written memorably about the limits of appellate review. Thus, when the appellate issue is review of a trial court's exercise of discretion, he has taught us "to eschew working the vineyard and instead to prune the occasional excrescence." When litigants seek to broaden appellate review by constitutional allusions, he has reminded us that "putting a constitutional tag on a nonconstitutional claim will no more change its character than calling a bull a cow will change its gender." Even genuinely constitutional claims, he has taught us, have their limitations. "Due process is not to be regarded as a giant constitutional vacuum cleaner which sucks up any claims of error which may occur to a party upon microscopic examination of the trial record." Finally, as a bulwark against the temptation to proffer judicial advice on inappropriate record, he has urged us to acknowledge that "appellate review is not designed either to answer academic inquiries or to float trial balloons." His words will surely delight and educate future generations of lawyers and judges.

It is fortunate for all of us that Justice Parskey's mandatory retirement, when in a few weeks he reaches the age of seventy, will by no means deprive us of the benefit of his wisdom, his good humor, his good sense and his profound dedication to the pursuit of justice. As a trial referee Justice Parskey will still hear cases, write opinions and assist in the disposition of appeals, but on his own schedule with more time to spend with his family. I hope that this arrangement is one that he will find entirely congenial. For myself and the entire judicial department, let me add that we are immensely reassured that Justice Parskey will continue for many years to come to serve the cause of justice in this state and to do so splendidly.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 228, page 936

1915 - 1994

The Honorable Leo Parskey, whose more than four decades of public service included five years as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, died on February 5, 1994, at the age of seventy-eight.

Judge Parskey was born in Hartford on June 22, 1915. He graduated from Harvard College, where he received his A.B. degree in 1937, and the Harvard Law School, where he graduated with a J.D. degree in 1940. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar that same year. He joined the United States Army Air Corps after graduating from law school and earned the rank of captain by the time of his discharge in 1946.

Judge Parskey became active in the American Veterans Committee and involved in Hartford city politics during the late 1940s and the 1950s. He twice was elected to the city council and served as deputy mayor until moving from Hartford to Bloomfield in 1957. He also served as counsel to the state Senate from 1963 to 1965.

Judge Parskey served as a Superior Court judge from 1965 to 1980. During this period, he also was a member of the Appellate Session of the Superior Court (1976-1980), presiding judge of the Appellate Session (1979-1980) and a member of the Judicial Review Council (1979-1980). In 1980, he was nominated by Governor Ella T. Grasso to serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. He served in that capacity until he reached the mandatory retirement age of seventy in 1985.

Judge Parskey had a reputation as a tireless conversationalist who used humor in his judicial decisions. His writings from the bench showed uncommon flair. "You don't have to be stodgy or throw prose out the window when writing decisions," he said in a 1980 interview.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 181, page iii

Appointed to the Supreme Court April 22, 1980, to take effect July 4, 1980.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 196, page iii

Retired June 22, 1985, under constitutional limitation as to age.

Parsons, Francis

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 29, pages 604 - 605

FRANCIS PARSONS was born in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, on the 16th of February, 1795. His father was the Rev. David Parsons, D. D., for nearly forty years the pastor of the First Congregational Church there. His mother was a sister of Hon. Thomas S. Williams, for several years Chief Justice of this state. He graduated at Yale College in 1816, and after spending a year and a half as a teacher in Virginia, entered the law office of Judge Williams, then a practicing lawyer at the Hartford bar, and upon his admission to the bar settled in Hartford, where he always afterwards resided.

I can not give a better sketch of his professional and general character than is given in a brief memoir of him prepared for circulation among his friends by Rev. E. P. Rogers, D. D., of Albany, a kinsman of the family, from which I take the following extract:

"After his admission to the bar he steadily pursued the practice of law, and for more than forty years was engaged more or less in business. He soon rose to eminence as a sound lawyer, judicious in counsel, honorable and high-minded in the management of his cases; always frank and courteous in his deportment towards those who were opposed to him in court; never allowing himself to use any of the arts of the pettifogger; kind and considerate towards his juniors; moderate in his professional charges; and through all his professional career establishing the reputation of an able lawyer and an honest man, at the same time and on an equally durable foundation. He never encouraged needless litigation and always advised an amicable settlement of cases whenever it was practicable.

"Mr. Parsons never sought the distinctions or the emoluments of office. He was singularly unambitious, and never courted popular favor. Yet whenever it seemed to him to be his duty to sustain public trusts, he never shrunk from labor or responsibility. He served the public faithfully as city attorney, in the legislature, and on the bench of the county court. In all these public stations he exhibited the same industry, integrity and fidelity which were the leading features of his character in all the business of life.

"Hartford, which for more than forty years was his residence, has always been distinguished for its general intelligence, its high standard of business integrity, and its elevated tone of christian morality. It has always numbered men of the highest excellence of character among its citizens. To fill a high position in such a community is no ordinary tribute to any man. Yet it is not claiming too much for Mr. Parsons to say that he always stood among the first men of the city. To none were more important trusts committed, of a public and private character; no man enjoyed more of the confidence of his fellows; none were more thoroughly identified with all great enterprises of public utility, philanthropy and benevolence, and none have left behind them a purer record. His heart and his hand were always open to every good cause; his voice and pen always ready for the defence of truth and the maintenance of principle. With a heart most keenly alive to all the amenities and charities of private and social life, with a most sympathetic nature and loving spirit, he was yet, in the defence of what he deemed right, firm even to sternness, and steadfast as the everlasting hills. Forgiving and forbearing to the last in private and personal relations, in his public trusts and duties he was the bold, uncompromising champion of truth, and the determined foe of any thing like guile or injustice. The only enmities which he ever provoked were from those whose vices or crimes it was his duty to rebuke or to punish or whose lawlessness he was called on to restrain. And in regard to them he always had integrity and firmness enough to prefer `the praise of their censure, to the censure of their praise.'

"They who knew Mr. Parsons only as a public man, though they saw much to command their respect and confidence, yet could have no adequate conception of the finer and more winning traits of his character in the social relations of life. To know him best it was necessary to see him in the domestic circle and among his friends. He was a most affectionate husband and a tender father. His hospitality was unbounded. He delighted in the society of his friends, and always made them welcome to his dwelling. His manners were frank, affable and simple. He enjoyed social life with zest, and was fond of wit and humor, yet had the keenest sensibility to what was touching and pathetic. A story of distress, or any incident calculated to reach the feelings, would at once excite his sympathy and bring a tear to his eye. His pecuniary gifts, both to objects of public utility and of private charity, were really munificent; and it was often a matter of wonder to his friends, how, with his comparatively moderate fortune, he could give away so much. His kindness to the poor was one of the most remarkable features of his character. He not only gave his money to the needy, but he gave his time, and his counsels, and kind words that were often more valuable than money. He visited them when sick, counselled them as to their temporal affairs, and often kneeling by their side invoked upon them the blessings of Heaven. His loss is felt not only in the forum and the varied walks of public life, but in many lowly dwellings, and his memory will be long cherished with grateful affection in the hearts of the poor."

Peasley, Frederick M.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 130, pages 738 - 739

Few men have served the state of Connecticut in an important judicial capacity as long as did Frederick M. Peasley. He was admitted to the bar at Waterbury in 1895, became deputy judge of the District Court in 1901, and with but slight interruption served as a judge of that court and the Superior Court and as state referee over a period of more than forty years.

Judge Peasley was born at St. Mary's, Ohio, February 9, 1866. He attended Ohio State University for three years. In 1886 he came to Waterbury and entered the employ of The Plume and Atwood Manufacturing Company. Studying law at night by the light of kerosene lamps he helped to manufacture, he ultimately went to the Yale Law School and graduated in 1895. He immediately began to practice law in Waterbury in association with his classmate, the late Terence F. Carmody. Together they edited and published annotations to the General Statutes and other similar legal specialties. Very soon Mr. Peasley began his judicial career.

Upon the bench Judge Peasley was direct, forceful and uncompromising, cutting through form and subterfuge in quest of the truth. Never a mere umpire, he took an active part in each trial, simplifying and shortening it, often by a personal examination of witnesses. In court, and out of it, he gave much, and required much of others. His whole life was one of amazing activity. During the day he worked hard and faithfully as a minister of justice; in early morning and late at night he superintended the scientific conduct of one of Connecticut's largest farms, owned by him and located in Cheshire; yet he always seemed to have plenty of time to help others, to indulge in recreation, and to entertain guests in his beautiful home. He came into any company as a fresh breeze. There was a zest, an eagerness, which was always invigorating. There was never an idle nor a dull moment in his long life.

With no pride in his personal accomplishments, he centered his life in his home and his family. His wife, who was Elizabeth Brooks of Waterbury, and his two daughters, Marion and Harriet, survive. His greatest happiness was in them and in the notable hospitality which he and they lavished upon their many friends. At the age of 77 Judge Peasley was leading a life of almost unbelievable activity. On February 16, 1943, at Pass-a-Grille, Florida, his heart suddenly stopped beating: and that was all - except that he lives on in memory as a just and upright judge, as a man of sparkling personality who loved life and people, and as a friend who has illuminated and broadened the lives of very many of us.

*Prepared by Hon. Arthur F. Ells, of Litchfield. 

Peck, Epaphroditus

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 124, pages 703 - 704

Judge Epaphroditus Peck, born in Bristol May 20, 1860, died there October 29, 1938. His death was sudden and unexpected. He took a very active part in the annual meeting of the State Bar Association the week before he died and attended church on the preceding Sunday. Seldom, if ever, has the death of an inhabitant of Bristol called forth such a flood of tributes and testimonials. These related to his character, ability and accomplishments, for he was preeminent in all three.

At the time of his death his daughter Mildred was making a home for him. His wife, Grace Brownell, with whom he lived in perfect happiness for nearly fifty years, died in 1931. An older daughter, Margaret (Mrs. Thomas S. McEwan) lives in Winetka, Illinois. Judge Peck was a descendant of Deacon Paul Peck, a member of Thomas Hooker's company that settled Hartford. His father was Josiah Tracy Peck, one of Bristol's most distinguished citizens, and his uncle Professor Tracy Peck, noted latin scholar of Yale University.

Judge Peck graduated from the Yale Law School at the head of his class in 1881 when he was twenty-one years old. His life work from that time until his death was the practice of his chosen profession in the place of his birth. He gained and kept the affection and esteem of his fellow practitioners and thoroughly enjoyed his work.

A country practice could not give adequate employment to the energy and ability of a man like Judge Peck and he sought an outlet for these in many exacting occupations. He was for several years associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Hartford County, taught evidence, procedure and domestic relations in the Yale Law School, was the author of a book on the latter subject which is now in its third edition, and was active in the national, state, county and local bar associations. He was a keen and thorough historical student and delivered many addresses on local and New England historical subjects. He delivered the principal historical address at the Bristol centennial in 1885 and at the sesquicentennial in 1935 and in 1932 published a very complete history of Bristol. He was responsible for the founding of the Bristol public library in 1891, was secretary of the board for forty years and its president at the time of his death. He was prominent in the local, state and national affairs of the Congregational Church. He represented Bristol in the Legislature for ten successive years and was one of the most able, respected and influential members of its important judiciary committee. He was always ready to give generously of his time and energy to every worthy cause.

This incomplete list of Judge Peck's activities indicates the breadth of his interests and the extent of his public service. His character can perhaps be best delineated by an excerpt from an address delivered by him which will be recognized by his friends as a sincere expression of his personal belief. In speaking in 1897 on the occasion of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of his church he made this declaration of faith: "Just as President Washington and his three million followers, in the difficulties which encompassed the infant nation in 1789, were working under the same constitution, to uphold the same union, and preserve the same principles of democratic liberty which his successor of today is sworn to maintain, so our ancestors, strong and sturdy founders of institutions, had the same written guide, the word of God, the same union, the church of God, and the same eternal gospel of God's love and man's redemption, which form the foundation, and structure, and inspiration of the christian church today." Leaders who can honestly say that their conduct has been guided by so worthy a creed are all too rare. Judge Peck's influence will be sorely missed in his town and state.

*Prepared by Hon. Newell Jennings, of Bristol.

Peck, Josiah H.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 127, pages 728 - 731

Josiah Henry Peck was born in Bristol, Connecticut, March 5, 1873, the son of Miles Lewis and Mary Harriet (Seymour) Peck. At that time Bristol was a community of approximately four thousand inhabitants and it was there he spent his youth. After graduating from the Bristol elementary and high schools, Mr. Peck attended Yale University receiving the degree of A. B. in the year 1895. From there he went to Harvard Law School and in 1898 received his LL.B. degree. He went directly to New York City, where he was admitted to practice law that same year. After three interesting years in New York with the law firm of Brigham and Bayliss, Mr. Peck came to Hartford, was admitted to the Connecticut bar on November 8, 1901, and opened his own office. About a year later, on November 12, 1902, he married Maude Helen Tower of Providence, Rhode Island. Mrs. Peck, the daughter of a Baptist minister, had spent her youth in Bristol and graduated from Bristol high school in the class with Mr. Peck. Mrs. Peck died January, 12, 1940.

Mr. Peck maintained a law office in Hartford continuously from his admission to the Connecticut bar until his death, May 28, 1940. Except for that brief period during which he was in partnership with the late Benedict M. Holden from the early part of 1921 until December, 1924, Mr. Peck practiced independently. His ability and knowledge of the law soon made him an outstanding member of the bar and gained for him the statewide reputation of being a lawyer's lawyer. In fact, the greater part of his business was brought to him by other attorneys looking for his advice and assistance.

Although Mr. Peck was a prodigious reader on all topics, English history was a favorite subject. He was unusually familiar with the growth of the British Empire and continued to read about it even during his last illness. This interest naturally familiarized him with the spread of civilization, and the utilization by man of the scattered resources of the globe. One cannot absorb details of adventure which record the expansion of the English speaking peoples without becoming intimate with all parts of the world. But it was the people he met on these expeditions which interested him most. His reading was so extensive, his information gathered from so many sources, that he saw the characters in their truest forms.

So it was in everyday life. Mr. Peck saw people as they were. No rank or position, or lack of it, affected his vision. All people had feelings. All had desires. All strove for what they believed would be the most conducive to their happiness. Some were ambitious, others not. Some were energetic, others lazy. Some were kind, some cruel. But all were some of each. And if the mixture in the individual were more of this than that, it was. In his own way, with his own qualities each was groping for happiness. Mr. Peck's ambition was to help the stragglers or those who had fallen, or had been tripped by heedless fellow travelers. It was not his to criticize or demand reparation, but to assist the human back to the social road.

Life to Mr. Peck was an episode to be enjoyed. In 1921, he was offered an appointment to the Superior Court bench which he declined. Although his makeup was strictly judicial, he appreciated the universal fallibility of man and would not be the one to pass sentence on those apprehended and prosecuted. He realized that that task must be done by someone, but he was not going to do it.

Card playing was Mr. Peck's hobby. He was reared in a whist-playing family and was loyal to the game in all its forms. He was an ideal partner in any game. He could be depended upon to play expertly, while he never condemned his partner's play. He believed criticism would merely upset his partner and thereby promote disaster in subsequent play, while it could not possibly retrieve the loss. Also, most people realize when they have misplayed and criticism merely irritates. That characteristic of Mr. Peck's was not confined to the card table. His most praised possession was a small gold pin composed of two gears to which was attached a crank. On this pin was engraved S.S.W.C. which meant Select Society of Whist Cranks. This society is composed of thirteen of the best whist players in America. To be elected to this society is to achieve the highest honor among whist players.

Nevertheless, law was Mr. Peck's profession and to him it was always a profession. He never specialized in any particular branch but accepted what diversified business came to him. The only employment he refused was that having to do with business advice. If a legal problem were involved he would gladly tackle that, but he adhered faithfully to strictly legal advice. It was the drama of life in which Mr. Peck was interested, not the accumulation of wealth. Problems affecting people's feelings appealed to him, not problems affecting their pocketbooks alone. His sympathy and understanding were deep but they did distort his vision. If he were not convinced of the justice of his client's claim or position he was a very poor advocate. Although familiar with all the tricks of advocacy he considered them so repugnant to justice that he could not use them.

Mr. Peck had the rare ability of seeing the crux of any problem however complicated the facts might appear. To him the vital question was always visible - never changing. Added to this was a charming habit of directing attention to the issue by a witty remark. There was usually a bit of subtlety in his humour which made the point sink deeper, to be remembered longer. There is probably no one who knew Mr. Peck who does not remember vividly some humorous remark he made, and more likely many. This was because his quips told a story. They were not merely to amuse, but were more to make the thought remembered. They had the effect of making the point and sealing it with humour.

In 1941, Mr. Peck was elected president of the Hartford County bar association, and held that office at the time of his death. His election was a gracious tribute from a bar for whose members individually and collectively, he had done so much and the honor was deeply appreciated by him.

Mr. Peck was one of that refreshing minority who believe the law is a profession; who practice is leisurely with the purpose of promoting justice; in whom the fire of ambition does not outshine or consume the spark of charity.

*Prepared by Frederick H. Waterhouse, of the Hartford Bar. 

Pellegrino, Joseph H.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 252, page iii

Appointed to the Appellate Court February 9, 2000, to take effect March 13, 2000. 

Perkins, Charles E.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 91, pages 737 - 738 

CHARLES E. PERKINS died at his home in Hartford, January 8th, 1917, at the age of eighty-four years.

His middle name was that of his grandfather, Enoch Perkins, a prominent member of the bar in Hartford from 1786 until his death, who was State’s Attorney for Hartford County from 1809 until 1818, and was one of the committee of three appointed in 1807 to codify the public statutes of the State, which produced the excellent Revision of 1808.

The parents of Charles E. Perkins were Thomas Clap Perkins, who served as State’s Attorney for Hartford County, and for a long period of years was one of the leading lawyers in the State, and Mary Beecher Perkins, a sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe and of Henry Ward Beecher. His son, Arthur Perkins, was associated with him in the practice of law for over a quarter of a century, so that the family of Perkins has been identified in a direct line of succession with the Hartford Bar for more than a hundred and thirty years.

Charles E. Perkins was graduated at Williams College in 1853; studied law in his father’s office; and entered into practice with him in 1855, immediately upon his admission to the bar.

Thomas C. Perkins had a remarkably captivating manner of address. His son inherited this to a great degree. He arranged his course of argument in a simple but very effective way, and put his propositions of law before the court in such a form and manner that they seemed almost to prove themselves. In discussing questions of fact before a jury his manner was sympathetic and convincing. He seemed to put them in his place and give them his eyes. As an advocate to court or jury, he was always plausible, in the best sense of the word.

He was quick to see the turning point in a legal controversy, but careful to deliberate upon it before he came to a final conclusion. He spared no pains in the preparation of cases, and in the thorough study of questions presented for his opinion.

His professional income did not come mainly from a few clients, representing large interests. He had distinctively a general practice, but one not extending to criminal causes. Much of it, as time went on, was brought him by other lawyers, who wished his advice as to their clients’ rights, or his advocacy as senior counsel.

He was often consulted by our towns as a sound adviser as to the rights and duties of municipal corporations.

Few Connecticut lawyers have appeared so often before the Supreme Court of Errors, or in as great a variety of cases.

In 1875 Mr. Perkins was one of the founders of the State Bar Association, and from 1884 to 1908 he was its president. He was also president of the Hartford County Bar Association for many years, and until his death.

He was, for a whole generation, generally recognized as a leader of the Connecticut bar. To hold that position was his highest ambition. To deserve it was his steady and successful endeavor.

He was fond of hunting, and used to take his vacations in cold weather, to gratify this taste. When past seventy he made such an excursion to Virginia for duck-shooting, and in the course of it he overtaxed his strength. An illness followed, from which he never afterward fully recovered, and he gradually withdrew from active practice at the bar.

Like his father who, in 1861, declined an almost unanimous election as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, Mr. Perkins was never inclined to exchange practising at the bar for a seat on the bench. Once he declined to consider the acceptance of a nomination by a Democratic Governor for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, and once that of a nomination by a Republican Governor for Chief Justice. For either father or son to go upon the bench would have involved a considerable pecuniary sacrifice, but, irrespective of that, they preferred the freer life of the bar, with its constant variety of occupation, and its greater opportunities for daily social intercourse with men of like tastes and training.

*Prepared by the Hon. Simeon E. Baldwin, at the request of the Reporter.

Perkins, Donald G.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 87, pages 715 - 717

DONALD GILBERT PERKINS was born at Norwich, Connecticut, on the 14th day of June, 1858. He was the son of Edmund Perkins, a lawyer of wide reputation and a leading member of the New London County bar more than half a century ago. After his graduation at Phillips Exeter Academy, Mr. Perkins studied law in the office of Hon. Lucius Brown, with whom he was later associated in the well-known firm of Brown and Perkins. While a student at law he taught school for several terms at East Great Plain and at South Windham. Soon after his admission to the bar in 1879 he was appointed assistant clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives, and at succeeding sessions, in 1883 and 1884, was advanced successively to the clerkship of that body and of the State Senate. From 1883 to 1889 he was City Attorney of the city of Norwich. On September 14th, 1880, he married Florence Gould, daughter of George W. Gould of Norwich. Mr. Perkins and his wife were killed at Branford, on May 10th, 1913, in an automobile accident.

During the thirty-four years that he was a member of the bar, Mr. Perkins built up a large and lucrative law practice. He quickly disclosed gifts that advanced him rapidly in his profession. He was constantly before the courts in this and other counties of Connecticut. He tried many important cases in the State and United States courts at Providence, Boston and elsewhere. Several cases in which he was engaged were carried to the Supreme Court of the United States and were heard at Washington. One of these was the celebrated Mondou case, in which he secured a reversal of the decision of the Connecticut court declaring unconstitutional the Act of Congress imposing additional liability upon certain common carriers engaged in interstate commerce, and also its decision that it was not the duty of the State courts to enforce that law.

While Mr. Perkins was an able and discreet counselor and wondrously quick in examining the law and untangling the facts of a case or controversy, his exceptional gifts were best displayed in the court room. He was at home in the trial of a cause, and no evidence, however unexpected or hostile, disconcerted him. He saw intuitively the issues upon which the decision must turn. Altercations with opposing attorneys were avoided. The remark of an eminent and lamented judge concerning him was true, that his success in the examination of witnesses and the conduct of a case depended no less upon his avoidance of doubtful questions and dangerous sloughs, than the presentation of the evidence favorable to his client. His memory was remarkably accurate and tenacious. He took few notes of the testimony and yet the evidence, however detailed or conflicting, seemed always fresh and clear in his mind and he never lost a point by oversight or forgetfulness.  His manner simple, unaffected and direct was effective with judge and jury. That this was so is evidenced by the number of cases that he won and the large damages that he recovered, most often against railroads and other corporations employing eminent counsel. Devoted to his profession, he did not seek political preferment. He was an able advocate, true to the interests of his client, courageous, forceful, optimistic.

*Prepared by a committee of the New London County Bar, consisting of William H. Shields, Amos A. Browning, Charles F. Thayer, Tracy Waller and Charles B. Whittlesey, Esquires.

Perkins, Thomas C.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 36, pages 590 - 593

Thomas Clapp Perkins, for a long time at the head of the Hartford County Bar, and at the time of his death of the profession in the state, died on the 11th of October, 1870, in his seventy-third year. He was born in the city of Hartford on the 29th of July, 1798. His father was Enoch Perkins, a prominent member of the Hartford County Bar, greatly esteemed in his day as a man of legal learning, sound judgment and moral excellence. His mother was daughter of Rev. Timothy Pitkin of Farmington, and sister to Hon. Timothy Pitkin, who in his day was one of the leading public men of the state. He fitted for college in the Hartford Grammar School, and graduated at Yale College in 1818, the salutatorian of his class. He studied law with Seth P. Staples, Esq., then in New Haven and was admitted to the bar in the city of Hartford, where he immediately after commenced practice, and where he resided till the time of his death. He married in 1827 to Mary Foote Beecher, daughter of Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, who survives him. He was from early life connected by membership with the Congregational church. He was a man of great tenderness of heart and no one enjoyed more than he the opportunity to do an act of kindness to the sick or poor, or to any in special need of sympathy or aid; avoiding notice however, so far as he was able, in all his benefactions. For several years he took the oversight of and principally maintained a farm school for homeless boys a few miles out of the city, which he was accustomed to visit every Sunday afternoon for the purpose of giving the boys religious and moral instruction.

Mr. Perkins devoted himself assiduously and laboriously to the duties of his profession and had no inclination for political life, nor indeed for public office of any sort. He was twice elected to the lower house of the General Assembly, and for several years held the office of the State Attorney for Hartford County, and for a few years that of United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. In 1861, upon the death of Chief Justice Storrs, he was elected nearly unanimously to the Supreme Court of the state, but he declined the office.

His professional and private character are very happily described by Judge Shipman of the U.S. District Court, in responding to an address made by Nathaniel Shipman, Esq., in announcing to the court the death of Mr. Perkins. Judge Shipman remarked as follows:



Through in the address just delivered, as well as elsewhere, ample justice has been done to the character and career of Mr. Perkins, I cannot allow this occasion to pass without some expression from this bench of our sense of his ability and worth, and the loss which the courts as well as the bar and the public have suffered by his death. For fifty years he was a member of the profession, and for nearly all that time, was actively engaged in the discharge of its duties. For more than forty years he was conspicuous in its ranks, and long before any of those present came to the bar he stood among the foremost. From 1825 to the present time his name will be found in the reports of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Errors as counsel in cases determined by the tribunal. As early as 1830 he was engaged in very important cases, and in that year, or the next, his name will be found in the report of the great case of Hudson v. Wadsworth, associated with the then leading lawyers of the state. His colleague on that occasion was William Hungerford, (clarum et venerabile nomen), and his antagonists Nathan Smith and Roger M. Sherman. From that time to present our Reports contain ample evidence of the extent and variety of his practice, and the weighty responsibilities which he constantly bore. It is well, brethren of the bar, to pause here, at the threshold of his grave, and for a moment consider those qualities which made him an eminent and useful lawyer, commanding the respect of his profession and public for nearly half a century and down to his death. We are all aware that there are persons of intelligence who put no very high estimate upon our profession, and who seem to think that its uninterrupted pursuit tends to narrow the intellect and harden the heart. We think that we know that this judgment is unfounded. We have seen it constantly refuted in the lives of great lawyers by displays of intellectual power as comprehensive, and by personal worth as rich and pure, as the records of any profession can present. On the roll of such examples which this commonwealth has to offer, is inscribed the name of Thomas C. Perkins.

One of the elements of personal power and virtue is industry. This is indispensable to worth and success is every calling, and prominently so in that of a lawyer. It is only through severe toil that he can become eminent or efficient. This labor must be constant, much of it away from the public eye. It is true that occasionally one is found endowed with a peculiar assemblage of gifts which enable him to distinguish himself as an advocate without unremitting labor in his office; but such examples are extremely rare, and their success usually partial and limited. We all know how steadily Mr. Perkins devoted himself to the business of his profession. From the inception of his cases to their final determination, through all the stages of consultation, preparation and trial, his labors were thorough and constant. As an associate he shirked no share of the burden. To the preliminary details, which must be investigated and settled in the office by patient industry, he devoted his energies as cheerfully as to the part to be performed in the presence of the court and the public. In this particular he was, while the acknowledged leader of the bar, as considerate of his juniors as he was in former years of his equals. His constant and well-directed industry continually augmented his usefulness, his business, and his fame.

But he was not a mere plodder, with no resources except what result from accumulating precedents from the books. He possessed an intellect of great native acuteness and vigor. His perceptions were quick, and his mind seized with readiness and wielded with strength the materials which his case and the law afforded. Both as a counselor and an advocate this bar has long conceded his ability. I use the word advocate in its larger sense, as applied to the vigorous and intelligent management of causes through all the stages of the trial. His intellect was strong and active, but not showy. In his addresses to the court or jury he was neither graphic, apathetic, nor witty. He displayed no brilliant rhetoric nor stately declamation. He was not a formal, rigid logician, following step by step through long argument the process of exact deduction. But he saw every feature of the case in hand, the nature and bearing of every fact and principle, and shed light upon every part by a full, learned, discriminating and luminous discussion. He was clear and self-possessed, with his resources, both of intellect and learning, always at his command.

While we all conceded his industry and ability, his healthy and genial qualities won our affection. He was courteous and respectful not only to the court, but to his brethren at the bar, and he almost invariably maintained this bearing even in the fiercest professional struggles. He was always serene and cheerful in his intercourse with others, and though not given to boisterous mirth, he abounded in harmless pleasantry. He was a good judge of character and saw the weak as well as the strong traits in others. He expressed himself freely in estimating other men, but there was no caustic in his criticisms. He shot no poisoned arrows. Indeed the whole tendency of his mind and heart was to look on the bright side of all things. His views and feelings had no tinge of gloom, or, if clouds hung over his mind, he turned only their silver lining towards us. He had sorrows, but we know that he bore them with a stout heart and in uncomplaining silence. His elastic, genial and hopeful spirit sought the sunlight rather than the shade, and he might well have taken for his motto the inscription said to be found on sun-dial in Florence:

"Horas non numero, nisi serenas."

Though for several years past he had suffered from a painful disease, which would have broken a less undaunted and cheerful spirit, he bore it with wonderful serenity and fortitude; laboring with success and energy in his profession, and meeting us with a pleasant smile and cordial greeting down almost to the day of his death.

Though Mr. Perkins's time and talents were mainly concentrated on his profession, it is well known that he was a man of thought and culture in other departments of knowledge. He was well acquainted with the best productions of wit and genius, and in his hours of relaxation solaced and refreshed his mind with the treasures of literature.

He was eminently fitted to discharge the practical duties of public life, but hardly well adapted to be a popular favorite at the present day. The few offices which he held were not the most distinguished, and they sought him, and not he them. He honored them rather than they him. As Attorney for the State and the United States, and member of the General Assembly, he was as conspicuous for integrity and devotion to the public welfare, as he was for the ability with which he performed his official duties. But it is not in political circles, or legislative bodies, or popular assemblies, that his loss will be most deeply felt. It is on the courts, in the midst of the bar, and on the hearthstone that the shadow of his death has fallen. This, and the other judicial tribunals in the state, have lost the aid of an instructive and enlightened counselor, the bar their most learned, experienced, and powerful leader, and those who were united to him by tenderer ties a generous and steadfast friend.

Perry, John H.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 130, pages 739 - 742

John Hoyt Perry of the village of Southport, in the town of Fairfield, died suddenly at Averill, Vt., September 2, 1928. He was born on July 26, 1848, at Southport and lived there until his death. Son of Oliver Henry and Harriet Eliza (Hoyt) Perry, he came of a long line of distinguished ancestry that had builded deep and well into the old town of Fairfield and Fairfield County. He used to say to his friends that within twenty-five miles of his home there were buried more than a score of his ancestors.

He prepared for college at the Wilton Academy and entered Yale College with the class of 1869. Because of delicate health, however, he lost a year, graduating in 1870. He received the degree of M.A. from Yale in 1873. His legal education was pursued at the Columbia Law School where he received the LL.B. degree in 1873. He was admitted to the bar in Fairfield County in June, 1873.

His professional practice began in Norwalk as junior in the firm of Ferry, Woodward & Perry. Orris S. Ferry had represented the fourth congressional district in Congress and became United States senator in 1867. Asa B. Woodward was an outstanding lawyer and citizen in Norwalk and for many years judge of probate. In 1887 Judge Perry and his brother, Winthrop H. Perry, formed the firm of Perry & Perry with offices in Bridgeport.

In 1889, he was appointed judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Fairfield County and served until 1893. Then with his brother, Winthrop, and George E. Hill, he formed at Bridgeport the firm of Perry, Perry & Hill, which continued until he retired from active practice in 1902. In 1901-1902, he was counsel for the United States in arbitration proceedings with Chile. Thereafter he continued his interest in law and in lawyers, and though he did not maintain an office, he acted as counsel for the town of Fairfield, served in the management of trusts, and the settlement of estates, and counseled and advised his friends and former clients and whoever asked his assistance, but did not engage in active, much less general, practice.

He was instructor in the law of evidence and contracts in the Yale Law School and lectured there on Parliamentary Law. In politics he was a Republican and represented Fairfield in the House of Representatives in 1877, 1878, 1881 and 1889. In this last year he was speaker of the House, as his father, Oliver H. Perry, had been in the sessions of 1859 and 1860. In 1913 he was elected to the Connecticut Senate and served as the minority leader.

Judge Perry was a member and first vice president of the Connecticut constitutional convention of 1902. Always active in law enforcement, he was appointed a member and for many years served as president of the state police commission until its reorganization in 1921.

He gave his services freely in civic and church matters. He was the president of the Southport Savings Bank, the Pequot Library Association of Southport from its founding, and the Fairfield Historical Society; trustee of the Hartford Seminary Foundation; chairman of the executive committee and lifelong member of the Southport Congregational Church; chairman of the executive committee of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions; and a member of the alumni advisory board of Yale University from its creation until 1925. As president of the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, he saw to the marking of historic spots, among others that of the Great Swamp Fight ending the Pequot War of 1638, in Southport just south of the Old Post Road.

He took a deep and active interest in the affairs of his town, and labored untiringly for the improvement of his village. Incidentally he saw to it that no boat with unmuffled motor operated on Southport Harbor, and that no saloon was located in the village south of the railroad. He was a regular attendant at town meetings, where his influence was always felt and made for advancement and improvement.

He was among the earliest to seek the Adirondacks for health and recreation (a "Murrayite"), and kept his interest in fishing and the out-of-doors until the end. For many years he had a cottage or camp on an island in Moosehead Lake. He belonged to the Metabetchouan Fishing and Game Club at Kiskisink, Quebec, and the Hallenback Club at Lime Rock. His death occurred when he was on a fishing trip with his family at Quimby's.

Judge Perry married Frances Virginia Bulkley of Southport September 23, 1874, and had five children, George B., J. Walter, Richard A., Virginia B., and Hoyt O. Perry. All his children survive except George, who became a successful lawyer in Detroit and died in January, 1923. On November 15 of the same year Mrs. Perry died, and thereafter his daughter, Virginia, with whom he always maintained a beautiful companionship, managed his home. Despite his civic activities, his family and next his church were his foremost consideration.

An examination of the Connecticut Reports for the period ending with his retirement from active practice reveals a large number of important cases in which he was counsel and to which he brought a highly trained legal mind and unusual powers of analysis and logic. His clarity of thought, his terseness and clearness of expression, made his arguments weighty and convincing. He was probably more influential with the court than with the jury.

Judge Perry was reserved in manner, an artistocrat in appearance and in his thinking, but warm, loyal and devoted to his friends, among whom he counted many of the most noted and influential men of Connecticut. Each autumn he was host on an automobile trip and picnic (once at least on the shores of Lake Waramaug) with his friends Marcus H. Holcomb, Charles Hopkins Clark, Col. Norris G. Osborne, Justice John E. Keeler and other leaders of the commonwealth.

While not a politician - he certainly was not a "handshaker" - he was a power in the town meetings of Fairfield, in the halls of the General Assembly, and in the deliberations of the constitutional convention.

Among his friends and intimates he showed a humor that was exquisitely subtle and delightful and to his adversaries in debate he exhibited wit that was acute and brilliant. He could play upon words with a delicacy and warmth and exactness of meaning that was entrancing, with the sharpness and thrust of a rapier. Woe to the opponent in debate whom the judge deemed to be unfair in argument, for then his wit might take the form of sarcasm that could cut deep and wide.

Judge Perry was a refined Christian gentleman. He always kept an active interest in the practical matters affecting his town, his state and his church, but never allowed practical considerations to lower his standards. He was morally and intellectually honest. He thought true and straight and then acted. He believed that the success of any great moral enterprise did not depend upon numbers, hence he was never afraid to be one of a minority. Sometimes he seemed rather to enjoy it. His friend "Nod" Osborne, aptly refers to Judge Perry's "militant integrity," and notes, and regrets, that Judge Perry like Henry C. Robinson of Hartford was never made governor.

He regarded his house as his "castle" and his records and papers "sacred," even from a treasury agent.

He loved his native town and state, where he lived for eighty full and useful years. By his clean living, clear thinking, fine achievements, Judge Perry came to be regarded as an outstanding leader of his town and one of the foremost citizens of Connecticut. It has taken many to fill the places of trust and usefulness that he filled so well. His influence for good in the community he so much adorned and in the state he served so long still continues.

*Prepared by William B. Boardman, of the Bridgeport bar. 

Perry, Nathaniel

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix page 11

a native of Woodbury, read law with the late John Strong, Esq., of that place, for about 18 months, and completed his studies with Asa Chapman, Esq., then a practitioner of law at Newtown, and afterwards a Judge of the Superior Court. He was admitted to the Bar in Fairfield county, in April 1816; and soon after his admission, commenced the practice of law at Woodbury, and continued there until the year 1823; when he removed to this town [New-Milford], where he still continues in the practice. He was elected a member of the General Assembly, in the year 1832, and was Clerk of the House of Representatives. He was appointed Judge of Probate for the district of New-Milford, in the years 1832 and 1834, and again in the year 1838, and has ever since continued to hold the office.

Peters, Ellen A.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 231, pages 949 - 959


November 21, 1994


Chief Justice Peters, Governor Weicker, justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Appellate Court, members of the state and federal judiciaries, members of the executive and legislative branches, Professor Blumberg and members of Chief Justice Peters' family, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of my colleagues on the Supreme Court, I am pleased and honored to welcome you this morning to join us as we mark a true milestone in the history of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Ten years ago today, the oath of office of Chief Justice was administered to the Honorable Ellen Ash Peters. At the time Governor O'Neill announced Chief Justice Peters' nomination, he said that the new Chief Justice - and I quote - "will add a new dimension to the history of our Supreme Court." How right he was! But she has riot only added a new dimension, she has set new standards of excellence.

Today, we honor not only the person on the tenth anniversary of her appointment as Chief Justice, we also honor that record of excellence. Little could Governor O'Neill have comprehended the impact that Ellen Peters' appointment would have on the judicial branch of this state. In her embrace of new ideas and perspectives, in her testing of established legal boundaries, in her pursuit of excellence, and in her determination - in her own words - "to find a better way," Chief Justice Peters has upset, to the benefit of the people of Connecticut, the status quo of the judiciary but has done so with a calm, steady, constructive hand. Working with Judge Aaron Ment, and with the close cooperation of the executive and legislative branches, she has molded our court system - during a period of intense fiscal challenge - into a dynamic and efficient branch of state government and she has reformed the administration of our appellate system into a modern, effective organization. Unquestionably, the judicial branch is much better prepared to enter the twenty-first century because of her leadership.

My task today is not simple. There are many facets of Chief Justice Peters' tenure that should be addressed lest they be overlooked; yet to detail the complete record of her accomplishments, or to recite the litany of her degrees, and honorary degrees and honors bestowed, would put a strain on everyone's time schedules, so I'll stick to what I know best, her job performance. Suffice it to say at the outset that Chief Justice Peters wears two hats - one for her judicial duties and one for her administrative responsibilities. Her record is prodigious no matter which hat she happens to be operating under.

During her distinguished tenure on this court, Chief Justice Peters has contributed 541 majority opinions, 50 dissenting opinions and 17 concurring opinions to the jurisprudence of the state of Connecticut. Widely recognized as a scholar, she has brought her towering intellectual skills to her judicial positions, first as an Associate Justice, and then as Chief Justice. Her penetrating analyses of a legion of complex issues have helped shape the contours of Connecticut's legal landscape for the last sixteen and one-half years. Behind her scholarly mien lays a judicial fervor that is constantly ready to probe the ill-defined idea, dissect the weak argument, or terminate the unnecessarily prolonged discourse. On more than one occasion as a justice of this court, I was very happy to be sitting next to her, rather than standing unprepared in front of her.

Although it is a daunting task to single out particular cases from the many she has authored, some brief highlights might serve to illustrate the breadth of her scholarly opinions.

Perhaps the case of McConnell v. Beverly Enterprises-Connecticut, Inc., is an appropriate starting place. Colloquially referred to as Connecticut's first "right to die case," McConnell touched upon profound issues that affect all of us. A comatose terminally ill patient, a loving family, and a conscientious caretaker institution set the stage for an appeal concerning the rights and obligations of the actors in a tragic situation involving life and death medical issues. Six amicus briefs were filed in that case, a reflection of the division of public opinion surrounding the raised issues of privacy and self-determination. The carefully crafted opinion by Chief Justice Peters explored conflicting claims of jurisdiction, the right to refuse medical treatment, and the attendant factual nuances of the case, before holding that a reasonable construction of Connecticut's Removal of Life Support Act permitted the removal of the life-sustaining tube from the comatose patient. Whether you agree with it or not, McConnell reflects the penetrating legal analysis that all issues are given in Chief Justice Peters' opinions, and also the sensitivity with which she approaches the interests of parties who come before our court seeking justice.

On another front, those of us who work with her will also attest that the field of commercial law is one of the Chief Justice's special interests, something for which myself and the other members of the court on many occasions have said, "Thank God." She is the only person I know who thoroughly understands and can wax enthusiastic about the Uniform Commercial Code. Surely her years of imparting wisdom and precedent on commercial subjects to students at the Yale Law School paved the way for her continued expertise in this area. A case that displays her knowledge is County Fire Door Corporation v. C.F. Wooding Company. There the defendant maintained that when the plaintiff knowingly cashed a check explicitly tendered in full satisfaction of an unliquidated debt, the plaintiff became bound by the "terms of settlement" noted on the check. Chief Justice Peters, writing for a unanimous court, agreed, and in the process of arriving at that conclusion not only meticulously analyzed basic contract principles, but also - in almost comprehensible language - related the particular statutory provision at issue to other relevant provisions of the Uniform Commercial code. When we need a map to follow the route through the Uniform Commercial Code, we don't go to AAA, we ask directions from Ellen Peters.

State constitutional law is also an area in which the Chief Justice has done considerable independent research and writing over the last several years. Our review of cases raising state constitutional claims has consequently benefited greatly from her knowledge of the subject. In State v. Joyner, the defendant, convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping, appealed claiming, inter alia, that the statute imposing the burden of establishing the defense of mental disease or defect on a criminal defendant violated the due process provisions of the state constitution. Rolling up her sleeves, Chief Justice Peters undertook a detailed historical review of the roots of the insanity defense, and of a century of understanding about due process under Connecticut's constitution and its relation to burdens of proof and elements of a crime. Delving into [Jesse] Root and [Zephaniah] Swift, as well as the modern treatise authors, she chronicled in detail the development of the insanity defense, and without breaking stride, she went on to analyze the defendant's remaining six claims before affirming the judgment.

The Chief Justice also recently wrote the majority opinion in State v. Ross, the first death penalty considered by this court in many years. That opinion, rightly, I believe, upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty without endorsing it and placed the ball squarely in the legislature's court, a result arrived at only after much debate, study, and soul searching.

No matter what field she tackles, the hallmarks of the Chief Justice's landmark opinions are clarity, sensitivity, and penetrating intellectual analysis. Her linguistic ability is legendary - quite an intimidating accomplishment for one who did not speak or write English as a primary language until she was almost ten years old!

In administration, as in judicial matters, Chief Justice Peters' intellectual ability and probing curiosity have carried the judicial branch over rugged terrain to new vistas of innovation and organization. Many of us may recall that when she was handed the judicial reins, Chief Justice Peters - and the state - faced a criminal justice system in turmoil manifested by bickering and acrimony with the state police. Yet, characteristically, she remained above the pettiness, choosing to focus instead on the duties to which she had been appointed and restored the integrity of the system. We learned then, as we know now, that her agenda, while sweeping in application, is singular in purpose: the improvement of the administration of justice. Anything that clouds that focus, inhibits that progress, or delays its achievement, soon suffers the wrath of her impatience.

And when her judicial record is driven by the power of her scholarship and intellect, her administrative record reflects her boundless energy and commitment.

The back page of your program contains a listing of the significant achievements that have occurred in the judiciary during the past decade. At the risk of ignoring some, I shall highlight others. One major theme running throughout Chief Justice Peters' administration is the recognition of the importance of diversity: diversity in the men and women of the judicial branch through her aggressive support of gender fairness and affirmative action initiatives; diversity in the partnerships with the bench, the bar, the federal judiciary, other states, academia and the public, that provide the judicial branch with new and exciting perspectives upon which it may call to shape such new programs as the Connecticut Judges Institute, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Program, the Tri-State Judicial Conference, and the network of alternate sanctions. Finally, she has recognized the importance of diversity in the judicial branch's approach to its caseload through an understanding that not all cases are alike and that our courts must adapt their procedures and processes to meet best the individual needs of litigants, examples being, the establishment of the housing court and the tax court.

By reaching out to incorporate new, diverse ideas into the judicial network, Chief Justice Peters has compiled a record whose scope and impact spans the judicial landscape.

Through the Supreme Court Visitation Program, she brought our appellate system out beyond the walls of this room, reaching into the cities and towns, the colleges and universities, the law schools and local courthouses, so that each of our citizens my have the opportunity to learn about the appellate process and to observe it firsthand.

Through the Preargument Settlement Conference Program, she utilizes the valued expertise of the former members of the Supreme and Appellate Courts to resolve issues and expedite the disposition of appeals.

Through her support of the various agencies that serve the trial court, she has recognized the judicial branch's increasing responsibilities to be a provider of human services, responsibilities that are becoming as important as its duty to adjudicate cases, and she has sought to prepare the branch adequately to meet the public's needs in these areas.

Through her unbending support for the people in the judiciary, she has demonstrated her deep concern for their health, their safety, their work environment and their professional security and, in doing so, has worked tirelessly to see that the best interests of the men and women who serve on the bench are met.

The high esteem with which she is held by her colleagues, and friends, in Connecticut and throughout the country is perhaps most evident in her election last summer to serve as president of the national Conference of Chief Justices. It should come as no surprise that shortly after her election, the National Law Journal reported that the nation's chief justices are becoming a more active and effective voice in the campaign to improve the system of justice nationwide. Perhaps this is an early sign that the nation is benefiting from the leadership that we have enjoyed for a decade in Connecticut!

Ellen, on behalf of all of your colleagues on this court, I extend to you our heartfelt congratulations on this happy occasion. Each of us looks forward to enjoying your leadership, your scholarship, and your companionship for many more years to come.

I now have the high honor and the distinct privilege of introducing the Governor of the State of Connecticut, the Honorable Lowell P. Wicker, Jr.




Thank you very much, Mr. Justice, Chief Justice, friends.

I do not want you to take the manner of my garb as indicating any disrespect to the Chief Justice; it's rather informal. However, immediately after this ceremony I will be thundering and thrashing through the underbrush of Shelton cutting down the Christmas tree for the state of Connecticut. This is not accomplished well in a blue suit, believe me.

So, the second comment I'd make before I get to Ellen here is that I want to be very careful in what I say, and, indeed, it will be very brief because, along with the grave financial condition of the state of Connecticut that you handed to me upon assuming office, you also managed to have me as the defendant in numerous lawsuits with the federal government and everybody that had a legitimate complaint, lodging those complaints.

I can't really, and while that was happening, in most instances, I really felt that I should be the plaintiff, not the defendant, in these suits, and I suspect that might happen, you see, once I get out of office, knowing the directions in which I go, so I want to be very careful that I don't say anything injudicious here before this very distinguished gathering.

I tell you why I like Ellen Peters: Number one, obviously, and I don't have to dwell upon this, she's just got a fine mind; one of the best I've ever seen in terms of analyzing, in terms of a steady hand. She's just great.

I also like the fact of her deep involvement with her family, who is here. Any of us who are in public service know how much that means to the proper conduct of our office. You show me a public official who is involved with a family and I'll show you somebody who is, probably, going to do a very good job in an official way. This is a wonderful family you've got here, Ellen.

And then, to take the diverse elements of our judiciary and keep everybody on the straight and narrow with their eye on the ball, that's very unique in this day and age where people go off in many different directions.

I think she really does represent the best of Connecticut in that this is the land of steady habits, but also understanding that, in order to maintain steadiness, you also have to assimilate and deal with change, and she's done that well also.

So, I indeed, am grateful that, in four very tough years, there are many things I've had to contend with, but Ellen Peters and the Supreme Court of Connecticut is not one of those matters that I had to contend with.

She is representative of one of the great Benches of this nation, and, certainly, this is a time for celebration and looking back at the past ten years as Chief Justice, sixteen and one-half years in the court, but I'm also looking forward now, on the outside looking in, to seeing what happens in the next ten years.

Thank you very much.




Governor Weicker, Justice Callahan, fellow judges, family and friends: Thank you all for being here!

I've been thinking back about my feelings, ten years ago, when I was first sworn in as Chief Justice. My recollection is that, in just about equal measure, I was enormously grateful for the opportunity to serve in this exciting new position and enormously apprehensive about how I would manage this awesome new responsibility.

I set myself three goals, ten years ago: survival; a day-by-day management style that would work for me; and the development of long-term programs to strengthen the role of the judicial branch in providing justice for all the litigants that bring their problems to our courts.

Survival was at the top of the agenda for the first six months. It was a little like my first years as a law school teacher, when I was frantically trying to figure out, an hour before class, why the author of the casebook had juxtaposed materials that seemed, at first, second and even third reading, to have absolutely no relationship to each other. Sooner or later, the pieces of the puzzle would begin to fit together, and so it was here. I began to learn something about the inner workings of the judicial branch and about the legislative process, especially in its budgetary aspects. I am grateful to my many mentors, throughout government, who saw me through those early days.

Finding my own management style was my next priority because I wanted very much to keep alive the opportunity for intensive intellectual engagement in the work of the Supreme Court. Writing opinions is what I came to the court to do. Each year's cases raise new and fascinating questions that can only be answered by time-consuming research followed by many hours at the computer, to see whether one's first impression can be translated into an opinion that, in the vernacular, "will write." Perhaps I was just being defensive: I can still find my way around the Uniform Commercial Code in my sleep, but the Practice Book is something else again! But I did want to continue to explore the role of common law principles of jurisprudence in a world largely dominated by statutes and to continue to define the role of a state constitution in a world increasingly dominated by federal law. How to combine all of this with management responsibilities was a challenge, especially when I also wanted, occasionally, to visit the grandchildren, to read a bad book, and even to get some sleep!

Fortunately, I was blessed with a remarkable Chief Court Administrator who was eager and able to undertake the daily management of our court system. Judge Aaron Ment has been an exemplary administrator: thoughtful, innovative, energetic and endowed with that most essential of administrative talents, a sense of humor! I cannot imagine being Chief Justice without him. Between us, we have worked out a modus vivendi in which I read a lot, and he does a lot - it has been a happy arrangement, for which I am very grateful. A similar administrative structure now exists for the appellate system as well. Appellate administration was, in the first instance, firmly and effectively managed by Judge, now Justice, Borden, and is presently in the equally capable hands of Justice Katz. In addition, my management responsibilities have been immeasurably eased by superb assistance from Patricia Friedle, formerly my executive assistant and now the chief administrative officer for the appellate system, and, for almost all my days on the court, by my wonderful invaluable secretary, Linda Dubois. Together, they have made it possible for me to have time to write opinions, and occasionally to see Andrew and Emily, Phillip and Gwen, Sarah and Katie, Elizabeth and Christopher, and Alexander and Carolyn - and their parents.

My third aspiration was to make sure that Connecticut had a court system that continues to meet the ever changing requirements of those who need judicial services, My predecessor, John Speziale, had launched us on the road to a more open and inclusive judicial branch, and that was a road that I committed myself to exploring further. Accordingly, the judicial branch has reached out to work together with members of the bar, the legislature, the executive [branch] and the public on innumerable agendas that call for the widest possible angle of vision. Our program for alternatives to incarceration would not have been acceptable without a broad based launching platform. The gender bias study would not have been credible without the participation of many women and men from all walks of life. Only an effective partnership between judicial, executive and legislative leaders could speed up the collection and disbursement of funds for child support orders and victim compensation. Even with regard to agendas that courts hold most dear, such as the framing and amendment of our Rules of Practice, we now have multi-constituency and advisory committees to help to modernize the procedural rules that govern court proceedings.

For institutions as for individuals, I am firmly persuaded that looking to the advice of others to help us to do our own job better makes sense as a matter of self-preservation. Working together helps us to see ourselves as others see us. Sometimes, working together even helps others to see us as the fallible, but well intentioned public servants that we aspire to be.

Even more important, however, we need to participate in the broader legal landscape outside our courtrooms because the responsibilities of the judiciary, these days, are no longer confined to the formal adjudication of courtroom disputes. The role of the state judiciary has changed: where we were once umpires, we have now also become managers and even players in the search for justice. In the world we now inhabit, in order to do justice in the cases that come to us, we must see to the availability of a broad range of adjunct services, ranging all the way from alternate methods of dispute resolution to alternate methods of supervising substance abusers. Although our judicial system cannot itself provide all these alternate services, we bear responsibility for assuring their credibility and their accountability.

Administrative exploration of these new responsibilities, in partnership with the private sector as well as with other branches of government, gives promise that the Connecticut judiciary will continue to be a leader among state courts. That leadership depends also, however, on the certainty that our judges will continue to protect the rights of all the parties that appear before them in each and every case. Judicial independence that enables each judge, in his or her courtroom, to make the hard call, the controversial decision, is the bedrock upon which a sound judicial system rests. I am grateful for the support and hard work of all of the Connecticut judges over these last ten years. I am especially grateful to the fifteen past and present members of the Connecticut Supreme Court for their significant contribution to our collegial search for justice during these past ten years. It is in the nature of the work that we do that we will not always agree about the outcome of a particular controversy, and so, indeed, we all dissent from time to time, some of us more than others. As I recollect, Judge Shea, the very first time that he sat with the Supreme Court by designation, dissented vigorously from the conclusion reached by the majority. Dissenting opinions are not an issue. What is essential is that we agree on our underlying mission, which is to think long and hard about the rights of the parties as they are framed by the applicable principles of our case law, our statutes and our state and federal constitutions. On that, there can be and there is no disagreement and never has been.

In closing, I want to hark back to another ceremony in this courtroom, to the day in May of 1978 when Governor Ella Grasso first swore me in as an Associate Justice of this court. Governor Grasso took quite a chance in appointing a maverick like me: no judicial experience, no practice experience, an academic, a woman, a naturalized citizen, and, even more surprising, a person whom she had never laid eyes on. She gave me a rare opportunity to perform public service just as state courts were again becoming serious contributors - players - in the service of justice. She gave me an even rarer opportunity to vindicate the irrational confidence of an immigrant child who, from the age of thirteen, hoped that she could pursue a career in the law and then was given a position of responsibility and even leadership for its development. A few months later, Governor Grasso presided over an inaugural ball to which I was escorted by a man I then hardly knew, the then dean of the Law School of the University of Connecticut, one Philip I. Blumberg, whom I have since learned to know a great deal better. I owe a lot to Governor Grasso!

On that nostalgic note, thank you again for all your support for these ten exciting years, and thank you again for being here.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 237, pages 935 - 943

JUNE 6, 1996


Today we conclude a memorable chapter in the history of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Nearly twelve years ago, Ellen Ash Peters took the oath of office and became the court's thirty-third Chief Justice, as well as the first and only woman ever to preside over our highest court. Barring unforeseen circumstances, today is the last day that she will preside as Chief Justice at oral argument, and it is with the deepest admiration, respect and gratitude for her achievements that we honor her on this occasion.

For those of us who have had the pleasure of serving under her leadership, Ellen's attributes are well known. Scholarly, precise, and purposeful are all terms that immediately come to mind. At the same time, her level of caring and concern for those who seek justice before the state's highest court and its trial courts never waivers. Each case is studied, researched and ultimately decided in a manner that is truly reflective of her consuming passion to secure justice for all.

Her vision has always been of a court system that is truly fair and inclusive. Her program initiatives for the judicial branch, as well as her carefully constructed and precise opinions, have been a reflection of that vision. Chief Justice Peters' commitment to excellence and her willingness to find new and better ways to approach problems have resulted in hundreds of well crafted opinions, as well as branchwide innovations too numerous to list in their entirety. The specter of a bench without the leadership of Chief Justice Peters fills even the stoutest heart, particularly that of the speaker, with a certain amount of trepidation. Some aspects of her leadership, it seems, will be difficult - if not impossible - to imitate. The standard of excellence she has set, however, is one that myself and the associate justices will endeavor to sustain.

It goes without saying that Ellen is held in the highest esteem by her colleagues on the bench, legal scholars and government leaders. One of the more recent testaments to Chief Justice Peters' intellectual and judicial prowess came in the form of her 1994 election as president of the Conference of Chief Justices and chairperson of the board of directors of the National Center for the State Courts. Her extraordinary demands upon herself - a tireless, unyielding dedication to excellence - brought about that national prominence. Those same standards are reflected in her opinions, and her opinions have set standards not only for this court but for courts nationwide. It is not easy to single out particular cases from the more than 600 opinions she has written, but some brief highlights may illustrate the depth of her scholarship and her precise application of the law.

In Sheets v. Teddy's Frosted Foods, Inc., one of her early opinions as an associate justice, she provided some foreshadowing for the legal precision and underlying sense of fairness that would characterize her opinions during her tenure on the court.. The plaintiff, Emard Sheets, had been hired for an indefinite term as the quality control director and operations manager for the defendant, Teddy's Frosted Foods, Inc. After working successfully in those capacities for approximately three and one-half years, Mr. Sheets was terminated for questioning the quality control practices of his employer, and for informing his superiors that such practices might constitute a violation of the Connecticut Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a violation that could have subjected Mr. Sheets personally to criminal prosecution. Although the opinion never answered the more serious questions of what are "frosted foods" - or if there really is a "Teddy" - Justice Peters did provide judicial protection to employees who are terminated for reasons that violate a clear public policy, while also recognizing the legal and practical problem of opening the courthouse doors to those employees-at-will who are terminated for appropriate reasons.

It also did not take Justice Peters long to demonstrate, as a member of this court, the expertise that she had imparted to Yale University Law School students for so many years in the arcane, shadowy realm of the Uniform Commercial Code. In the 1980 case of Hamm v. Taylor, Justice Peters wrote an opinion concluding that a trial court must allow a mortgagee the opportunity to make a factual showing that a seemingly inequitable term in a mortgage was in fact reasonable under the circumstances of the commercial transaction at issue, before declaring that term invalid on grounds of unconscionability. Justice Peters there demonstrated an ability to incorporate her practical knowledge of the inner workings of commercial lending with her knowledge of the seemingly hieroglyphic terms of the Uniform Commercial Code. The Hamm opinion is also a prime example of her ability to distill complex legal constructs into a workable form for the practicing attorneys of this state and, more importantly, for her colleagues on this court. She is, in fact, the one person I know who thoroughly understands the Uniform Commercial Code, and can wax enthusiastic when discussing it. There is, incidentally, a rumor circulating that a reason for Ellen's retirement is to allow her to devote some time to an adaptation of the Uniform Commercial Code to a full length adventure movie starring Clint Eastwood. The memorable line from the film is expected to be Clint Eastwood saying "Go ahead - make me pay!"

In 1989, when faced with the difficult task of crafting this court's opinion in McConnell v. Beverly Enterprises, Inc., an emotionally charged case involving the right of a family to remove a loved one in a terminal coma from life support in accordance with the patient's expressed wishes, Chief Justice Peters again demonstrated why she is recognized as one of our nation's preeminent jurists. Her opinion deftly wove a reasoned course through a difficult maze of complicated case law and heart-wrenching facts to arrive at a compassionate result. After analyzing in careful detail the conflicting factual claims of the parties, the common-law right to self-determination, the constitutional right to privacy and the text of Connecticut's Removal of Life Support Systems Act, Chief Justice Peters concluded that, under Connecticut law, the patient had a statutory right to die. Although there was a sharp division of public opinion on the right to die issue at the time of McConnell, as there is today, not even the staunchest opponent of the decision would argue that the opinion was anything but intellectually and analytically sound.

State constitutional law is also an area in which the Chief Justice has written numerous opinions and done considerable independent research. In addition to publishing several articles on the appropriate role of state constitutions, including an often cited 1986 Michigan Law Review article entitled, "State Constitutional Law: Federalism in the Common Law Tradition," Chief Justice Peters has authored several of this court's most important state constitutional decisions. One example is State v. Joyner, a 1993 case in which the court was faced with a criminal defendant's claim that a statute placing the burden of proving mental disease or defect on a criminal defendant was a violation of the due process clauses of our state constitution. After an exhaustive review of resources and case law from this and other jurisdictions and after weighing the state's interests against those of the criminal defendant, the Chief Justice concluded that our state constitution permits the legislature to determine that a criminal defendant, rather than the state, appropriately bears the burden of proving insanity. In Joyner, as in each of her published opinions, the Chief Justice has demonstrated a remarkable ability to confront and resolve the most complex questions with seeming ease. We are fortunate that Chief Justice Peters will remain with us as a Senior Justice so that we may continue to benefit from her probing intellect.

Presiding over the state's highest court is only part of the Chief Justice's job. The position also carries with it the responsibility for administering a statewide system of courts and support programs to effectively and equitably ensure the rights of all of Connecticut's citizens. To say that Chief Justice Peters has been the driving force for some of the Connecticut judicial branch's most significant innovations during the past twelve years would be to understate the scope of her achievements. It is at the risk of doing so that I summarize some of the many programs and changes she has implemented in her role as the "buck stops here" administrator for the Connecticut courts. Working with Chief Court Administrator Judge Aaron Ment, she has transformed the judicial branch into a dynamic and responsive entity capable of meeting the needs of the state's citizens as we enter the twenty-first century.

The provision of a justice system that is blind to prejudices and free from bias has been a priority for Chief Justice Peters. She has spoken out against bias in any form and has made known her view that bias has no place whatsoever in the courts. In her words, "the very perception of bias as it exists in Connecticut and in other states corrodes the foundations of justice." In keeping with that commitment, she has initiated a painstaking inquiry into the existence of possible bias in the courts and a search for measures to eradicate it if it exists. In April, the Task Force on Minority Fairness presented its findings and recommendations to her. The task force found that some minorities perceive the courts to be biased, in spite of the many strides the judicial branch has made to overcome discrimination. She accepted the findings in her characteristic style - with a plan of action. A committee is already being formed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations in the report of that task force.

Further, the work of the Task Force on Gender, Justice and the Courts took place under her leadership. When that task force found significant differences in the way that men and women were treated in the courts, Chief Justice Peters moved swiftly to change that disparate climate. Today, we have a policy in place that specifically condemns gender-biased conduct on the part of judges and judicial branch personnel. A handbook of guidelines to ensure fairness is also published and distributed to all the courts.

Chief Justice Peters has also advocated the effective use of modern technology to further the administration of justice in our state and has overseen the judicial branch's transition to the computer age. The Electronic Bulletin Board System for the expeditious reporting of judicial decisions is the most recent innovation in place because of her support.

Her uncompromising commitment to excellence has also led to the statewide implementation of the Continuous Quality Improvement Program, the Total Quality Management process, Employee Performance Appraisals and in an improved Management Development Program.

The safety and well-being of all who work within the courts also has been a priority for Chief Justice Peters and she has overseen measures that have dramatically improved the quality of life in the workplace. A wellness program for judges, new judge orientation programs and more stability in judicial assignments demonstrate her deep concern for those who are responsible for the administration of justice in the trenches.

Moreover, Superior Court programs she has initiated or has been instrumental in implementing, such as the One-Day/One-Trial Juror System, a Regionalized Juvenile Trial Docket, the Tax Court, and Alternative Sanctions and Alternative Dispute Resolution, provide greater efficiency, improved customer service, and a more equitable distribution of resources within the judicial branch.

The facilities in which justice is administered have also benefitted from her vision. Recognizing the importance of providing safe, clean courthouses equipped with modern amenities, Chief Justice Peters has presided over the planning or completion of ten new court facilities, as well as significant improvements in many others throughout the state.

Perhaps her roots as a distinguished member of the Yale University Law School faculty are responsible for her ongoing commitment to educating the public about the courts. The Supreme Court Visitation Program has demystified our appellate system for many by reaching beyond Hartford into other cities, towns and school campuses, so that each of our citizens, and particularly young people, may have the opportunity to learn about the appellate process and to observe it first hand.

To continue with Ellen Ash Peters' numerous accomplishments as Chief Justice would require more time than our schedules permit. But, it would be a great disservice to conclude without stating on behalf of this court, the judicial branch and the people of the state of Connecticut, that Chief Justice Peters has unquestionably and permanently changed the judicial branch to the benefit of all whom it serves.

Thankfully, when Ellen steps down as Chief Justice, we will continue to benefit from her scholarly pursuits and wise counsel as she begins her new role as a Senior Justice of the Supreme Court and is able to devote more time to the research and writing she loves so well. We - and especially I - look forward to her continued guidance, advice and friendship.




Thank you very much. The other night, at the Connecticut Bar Association dinner, I had the occasion to observe that Chief Justice Callahan will be a better model than the incumbent Chief Justice in many ways: taller and more genial. I have not changed my mind.

Today brings home the reality that September 1 is just around the corner. Some part of me wants to rewind the tape, back to last February or March, maybe - without the snow.

Rewinding the tape even further would bring me back to that November day in 1984 when I was first sworn in as Chief Justice. Then, as now, I was sustained by my loving family, my dear spouse, Phillip Blumberg, and two of my three children. Fortunately, David Peters has been able to be here on both occasions. In 1984, Jim Peters was teaching in Zimbabwe, a little too far for a ceremony here, but today he is here, with Professor Jean Koh Peters. And Julie Peters Haden is the one who cannot be here.

Then and now, and in all the years in between, I have been enriched by the contributions of my many hardworking law clerks, with whom I have happily argued and edited and spent many rewarding hours and days. Finally, throughout my days on the court, I have had superb assistance from other judges and justices, from innumerable members of the staff and from the legions of lawyers who have appeared here. How delightful that some could be here this morning!

Because, in 1984, no present member of this court was a Supreme Court Justice, the court looked different then. But, as an institution, the court has remained much the same. Whoever presides over the court, whoever sits on the court, the court has the same basic agenda, the same fundamental aspirations.

In this connection, I want briefly to paraphrase something that Bart Giamatti, the eloquent president of Yale University, once said about the university, because I think it just as true about the judiciary. Taking liberties with his text, I quote: "[The court] constantly challenges the capacity of individuals to associate in a spirit of free inquiry, with a decent respect for the opinion of others. Its values are those of free, rational and humane investigation and behavior. Its faith, constantly renewed and ever vulnerable, hold that if its values are sufficiently respected within, their growth will be encouraged without. Its purpose is to teach those who wish to learn, learn from those it teaches, foster research and original thought, and ... to disseminate knowledge and to transmit values of responsible civic and intellectual behavior. That purpose can never become the captive of any single ideology or dogma. Nor can it be taken for granted.

"In its purpose, the [court] embodies the pluralistic spirit of America, and it embodies that spirit in another way as well. The country's promise that diverse people, with diverse origins and goals, can compete on the basis of merit for the fulfillment of their aspirations, is also the basic premise of [the work of the court] .... If [the court] is to [be a leader] in the development of the law, it ... must [be prepared to] ... respond to every part of the larger society."

Being Chief Justice has given me the opportunity to help the judicial branch to reexamine and to renew its age-old commitment to the spirit of pluralism, to its responsibility for assuring justice for all. I am endlessly grateful to have had that opportunity and, as well, for the immense pleasure and great satisfaction that has come with presiding over this court in the beautiful courtroom.

If they could have shared this day, my grandfather, the lawyer, and my father, the lawyer, would have been pleased. My mother would have felt rewarded for her insistence that, early on, I should make up my mind about finding a profession to pursue. And my sister would have been glad that her boundless encouragement had helped her kid sister to realize the most impossible and unlikely of dreams.

The best, however, is yet to come! I can ask questions from any chair, wherever it is located behind this bench! I look forward to continuing to participate in the work of this court and most especially to serving under the new Chief Justice, for whom my admiration knows no bounds.

Thank you all.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 251, pages 931 - 935

DECEMBER 7, 1999


Family, friends and colleagues of Chief Justice Peters, I welcome you as we end an era in the history of the Connecticut Supreme Court and of this state. Today is the last day that Justice Ellen Ash Peters will sit to hear cases as a member of the Connecticut Supreme Court. I am happy that her husband Professor Emeritus Phillip Blumberg, former Dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, and her son James Peters are able to be with us as we honor her.

Twenty-two years ago, Ellen Peters was nominated by Governor Ella Grasso to become Connecticut's first woman Supreme Court justice. When the Governor's counsel, Jay Jackson, telephoned to request a meeting, the busy Yale law professor considered declining the invitation, so sure was she that she was to be appointed to yet another committee. Fortunately for Connecticut, she answered the call and was appointed to the Supreme Court on May 10, 1978. Justice Peters quickly forged a reputation for scholarship and the courage of her convictions, which continued in her nearly 700 opinions, 640 majority, 19 concurring and 13 dissenting.

Justice Peters, as the first woman to do so, took the oath of office as Connecticut's Chief Justice on November 21, 1984, and became a first rate administrator. I can tell you from personal experience, that is no mean accomplishment. During her twelve years as head of the Judicial Branch, Chief Justice Peters led us into the technological age, oversaw innovations such as education and support systems for trial judges, presided over the building of ten new courthouses, and encouraged the consolidation of Judicial Branch functions, using our resources to meet the challenges of the time.

Justice Peters, concerned about the intrinsic fairness of our courts, initiated task forces to examine public perception of bias and prejudice and to develop ways of dealing constructively with these issues.

On the national scene, as a member of the Conference of Chief Justices, Chief Justice Peters became, in July, 1994, the first woman President of the Conference and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts. Her energetic and capable leadership in those offices brought national attention to our state and enhanced the reputation of this court.

As Justice Borden stated on the occasion of her 1995 receipt of the Raymond E. Baldwin Public Service Award, "Ellen Ash Peters has been a superb Chief Justice. She combines extraordinary intellectual power, a keen sense of history, and an ability to balance the justice of the particular case with the general coherence of the law, with firm but fair judicial and collegial leadership."

In State v. Stoddard, Justice Peters recognized the state constitution as a basis for individual liberties. That 1988 opinion, which established that Connecticut law enforcement officials have a state constitutional duty to inform a suspect of his counsel's efforts to provide legal assistance, was very important in that area. Justice Berdon praises Justice Peters' "leadership in the development of our state constitutional jurisprudence in order to provide the citizens of this state greater protection of individual rights."

Justice Peters' reading of our state constitution is best known from her 1996 landmark decision in Sheff v. O'Neill. Marching far ahead of the federal courts, Justice Peters wrote that our state constitution guarantees equal protection and free elementary and secondary education. This she saw as a solution for the debilitating effects of racial and ethnic isolation upon the Hartford public schools. Her willingness to develop a judicial solution to this persistent problem reveals her view of the law as a force for equality and progressive change.

In Sheets v. Teddy's Frosted Foods, Inc., one of Justice Peters' early opinions, she gave an indication of the skill with which her opinions would be crafted. Sheets alleged that he had been fired from his job as the defendants' quality control director in retaliation for his insistence that his employer's products comply with the provisions of Connecticut's Uniform Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. At a time when "whistle blowing" and employment at will conflicted in the employment arena, Justice Peters' opinion, establishing judicial protection for employees terminated for reasons that violate a clear public policy, wrote new law. As Justice Norcott has remarked, "Her ability to cut to the nub of an issue, and force the court to confront its essence has been critical in the opinion process."

Ellen Ash Peters has served the state of Connecticut for almost twenty-two years. Her legacy to us will be forever found in her scholarly and thought-provoking opinions. Beyond the written word is the person. In the words of Justice Katz, "Ellen's brilliance and scholarship are well known, but for me her contribution has been of a more personal nature. She has been a role model and mentor for over twenty years, and I will continue to look to her for keen insight and friendship."

Legendary for a keen intellect, perceptive common sense and ability to persuade, Justice Peters has contributed, in addition to her almost 700 opinions, penetrating legal commentary on virtually every aspect of our law. She has produced thirty-two scholarly writings and bar review articles. In the words of Justice Palmer, "her achievements and contributions are many and extraordinary, and will endure for generations."

On September 1, 1996, Chief Justice Peters elected to assume senior status. At that time, only four other judges had been chief justice for a longer period. Chief Justice Callahan then served as Chief Justice and I came to the court. Justice Sullivan followed. Both her successors as chief justice deeply value her guidance and advice. Over the past two years, in addition to carrying a full complement of opinion work, she has returned to the Yale Law School where she teaches The Other Side of Federalism, a course she designed dealing with state courts.

During her time on the court, Justice Peters has worked with thirty-four law clerks, many of whom are here today, and all of whom have gone on to make her proud. The pleasure with which she talks of their accomplishments, in private and public practice, as well as in the legal academic field, tells what kind of a teacher she is.

Some of the highest words of praise for Justice Peters come from the support staff: "Rarely has there been anyone with such intellect, energy and vision"; "By setting the highest of standards, Justice Peters inspired me to achieve more than I had ever hoped"; and "She never expects of anyone what she is not willing to give herself -a true leader."

As I look about this room I see two murals. In one, the founding fathers of Connecticut listen to the Reverend Hooker while composing the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. Every founder is a man. Ellen Ash Peters did not come to this land on the Mayflower. If she had, her intelligence and skill would have resulted in a woman being in that mural. Rather, she came from the Nazi terror, past the Statue of Liberty holding the flame of liberty. There is a certain glory in this anniversary of the day that Japanese bombers awakened a sleeping giant and dragged Hitler into a war with America which destroyed his tyranny. Chief Justice Peters has passed that flame onward as in the mural on the ceiling.

I congratulate you, Chief Justice Peters.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 175, page iii 

Appointed [to the Supreme Court] March 23, 1978, to take effect May 10, 1978. 


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 194, page iii

Appointed Chief Justice November 21, 1984. 


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 239, page iii

Senior Justice effective September 1, 1996.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 253, page iii

Retired March 21, 2000, under constitutional limitation as to age. 

Peters, John Thompson

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 2, page vii

Appointed [Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors] May, 1818, vice Hon. SIMEON BALDWIN and CALVIN GODDARD.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 10, page iii

Died at Hartford, August 28th, 1834.

Pettibone, Augustus

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix pages 7 - 8

Born at Norfolk, Litchfield county, Feb. 19th, 1766; entered Yale College, 1784, and continued there about two years; then read law with Dudley Humphrey, Esq. of Norfolk, a practising lawyer, from Sept. 1787 till the April following; then attended Judge Reeve's lectures at Litchfield, until March 1790, when he was admitted to the bar in Litchfield county, and settled in the practice of law at Norfolk. He continued in practice until 1812, when he relinquished it, and was appointed an Associate Judge of the County Court for the county of Litchfield. In this office, he continued until 1816, when he was appointed Chief Judge of that court, and continued to hold the office, until May 1831.

He represented the town of Norfolk in the General Assembly, October session 1800, May and October 1801, May and October 1802, May and October 1803, May and October 1804, May and October 1805, May and October 1807, October 1808, May and October 1812, May and October 1813, May and October 1814, October 1817, and May and October 1818. After the adoption of the constitution, he represented the town in the years 1819, 1820, 1821, 1823, 1824 and 1825. He also attended two special sessions of the General Assembly, in the years 1812 and 1815. In the year 1818, he was chosen a delegate from the town of Norfolk in the convention held at Hartford to form a constitution for the State; he attended and was appointed one of the committee to draft a constitution for the consideration of the convention. He was a Senator from the 17th senatorial district in the General Assembly, for the years 1830 and 1831.

Phelps, Charles

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 126, pages 726 - 727

Charles Phelps, of Rockville, was born in the southern part of the town of East Hartford, August 10, 1852. He was a descendant of George Phelps who came from England to Dorchester, Massachusetts, about ten years after the landing of the Pilgrims, and who emigrated to Windsor, with the original settlers in 1635. His father was Rev. Benjamin C. Phelps, and his mother was Sarah Parker (Humphrey) Phelps. When he was five years of age, his parents removed to Wethersfield, where he attended the local schools. He prepared for college in the East Greenwich Academy at East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and was a member of the class of 1871. He later matriculated at Wesleyan University, the college from which he received his M. A. degree. He studied law in the office of Hon. Benezet H. Bill, who was state's attorney for Tolland County many years, at Rockville, and was admitted to the bar of this state at Tolland, Connecticut, in 1877. Mr. Phelps practiced law in Tolland for a few months and thereafter he removed to Rockville in the fall of 1878, where he continued the practice of law until about 1930, at which time he retired from active participation in his profession in order to devote his entire time to the attention of personal affairs, banking, and civic interests which fully occupied his energies until his death, February 3, 1940, at Daytona Beach, Florida.

Mr. Phelps was appointed coroner for Tolland County in 1883 and held this office under successive appointments until he resigned in December, 1904, to accept the appointment of state's attorney for Tolland County, which office he held until July, 1915. He was the first corporation counsel for the city of Rockville, serving in this capacity from 1890 to 1892. In the year 1890 he was appointed prosecuting attorney for the city of Rockville and held this position until 1896. Mr. Phelps was a Republican in politics, and in 1885 and 1887 he represented the town of Vernon in the General Assembly and was thereafter, in 1893, elected state senator from the twenty-third district. During his terms in the General Assembly he served as a member of the judiciary committee. He was elected secretary of state in 1897 and held this office until 1899 when he was elected the first attorney-general of the state and served as such until January, 1903. He was a member of the state bar examining committee for some years. He was president of the Tolland County Bar Association for more than twenty years, resigning this office in February, 1937. He was a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and held the office of president thereof for a two-year term commencing in 1914, and for years was a member of the American Bar Association. Mr. Phelps represented the town of Vernon as a member of the constitutional convention in 1902.

Mr. Phelps' career at the bar was marked by devotion to public service. Early in his career he became renowned for his ability as an orator. He was, indeed, a very able and eloquent advocate, gracious and of the old delightful style of a true gentleman. He inspired confidence in his clients and all others who had the opportunity to deal with him in his numerous public and official positions. Despite the demands on his energy and time in ably conducting the affairs of his extensive general law practice in Tolland County, in addition to the zeal and devotion he so willingly gave in the fulfilment of his distinguished service to his state, he actively and extensively took part in the social, fraternal and civic affairs of his home community. He was a charter member of Rising Star Lodge, No. 49, I. O. O. F. of Rockville, and for many years a member of the Union Congregational Church of Christ. He also held membership in the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. He became a director of the Rockville National Bank January 13, 1903, and its vice president June 24, 1915; when the bank merged with The Hartford-Connecticut Trust Company on December 26, 1933, he was appointed vice chairman of the advisory board of its Rockville branch, holding this office until 1938 when he resigned because of poor health. He was also a trustee and vice president of the Rockville Public Library and trustee and president of the George Sykes Manual Training School. In addition thereto he was a member of the Psi Upsilon Club of New York and the Authors' Club of London, England.

On October 10, 1881, he married Leila L. Bill, daughter of Hon. Benezet H. Bill and Kate (Griggs) Bill, who died September 30, 1888. On March 28, 1900, he married Elsie E. Sykes. He is survived by his widow and two daughters: Dorothy, the wife of Hugh E. Jones of Middletown, New York; and Mildred, the wife of Horace W. Jones of West Hartford, Connecticut.

In both professional contacts and those of private life he displayed a genial, sociable and gracious personality. He was always tolerant and understanding. He was truly sincere and loyal to his friends. His memory will long be cherished.

*Prepared by John E. Fisk, of the Rockville bar.

Phelps, Charles B.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 34

Was born at Chatham, now Portland, Conn., in May, 1788; pursued his professional studies under Judge Reeve and Noah B. Benedict, Esq.; was admitted to the bar, in September, 1809; entered into practice at Woodbury, and has there continued the exercise of his profession to this time. He was appointed judge of probate, in May, 1823; and was annually reappointed until May, 1834. He was reappointed in 1835, 1836, and 1837; and again appointed, in 1842. He was a member of the House of Representatives in 1831 and 1837; and elected to the Senate in 1843. He also discharged the duties of post-master from 1831 to 1841.

Phelps, James

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 72, pages 736 - 737

JAMES PHELPS, an ex-judge of the Supreme Court of this State, was born in Colebrook, Conn., January 12th, 1822, and died at his home in Essex on January 15th, 1900. His father, Dr. Launcelot Phelps, was a citizen of influence and from 1835 to 1839 was a member of Congress, a position to which the son succeeded forty years later. The latter entered Trinity College, but was compelled by ill health to abandon his studies before the end of his first year. Subsequently he studied law with Isaac Toucey at Hartford, with Samuel Ingham in Essex, and in the Yale Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1840. Soon after this he opened an office in Essex, where he resided the rest of his life. He held the office of judge of probate for several years and was elected as a democrat to the lower house of the General Assembly in the years 1853, 1854 and 1856, and to the State senate in 1858 and 1859. In 1863 the legislature, then under the control of a republican majority, elected him to the Superior Court, and on the expiration of his term of eight years he was unanimously re-elected. Two years later he was unanimously elected a judge of the Supreme Court. In 1875 he was offered a nomination for Congress by his party, which he accepted, although inclined to remain on the bench. He was elected by a considerable majority to the 44th Congress, and again to the 45th, 46th and 47th Congresses, and then declined a further nomination. He was a very useful member while in Congress and had a place on some of its most important committees. After he finally left Congress he was nominated by Gov. Harrison, in 1885, to fill a vacancy in the Superior Court, and was unanimously elected by the General Assembly. He remained on the Superior Court until 1892, when he reached the constitutional limit of seventy years of age, and retired to private life.

Judge Phelps was a modest and unassuming man, quiet in his manner and with no self-assertion. He seemed much more fitted for the quiet of the court room then for the strenuous life of a politician. He was not, however, at all wanting in positive convictions. He was an able judge, well grounded in legal principles and with a sound judgment in applying them. He was a clean, honorable, upright man. His opinions while a member of the Supreme Court are well written, showing a clear mind and a thorough grasp of the matter in hand. Though a partisan in his politics he was never offensively so, and never consciously allowed his political affiliations to affect his judicial action.

In 1845 he married Lydia A. Ingham, the daughter of his preceptor, and she survives him; two sons, Samuel Ingham and James Launcelot, predeceased him.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 40, page iii

Elected by the General Assembly at the same session [May session, 1873] to fill the vacancy caused by the election of Judge Seymour as Chief Justice.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 42, page iv

Resigned May 21, 1875.

Phillips, Gilbert W.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 56, pages 603 - 604

GILBERT WHEELER PHILLIPS was born in Woodstock, Conn., July 22d, 1828. In the spring of 1855 he removed to Putnam in this state, and there resided until his death, which occurred October 24th, 1888.

His educational opportunities were such as were afforded him in the common schools, and in the academy of his native town, supplemented by a course of instruction at the academy in Dudley, Mass.

He studied law in the office of George S. F. Stoddard, Esq., at Woodstock, was admitted to the bar in 1852 and at once commenced professional work, laboring therein with an enthusiasm that never abated so long as health and strength remained.

In 1852 he married Jane Stoddard, a daughter of Lieut. Gov. Stoddard, and a sister of his instructor in the law. Three children were born to him, of whom two, and his wife, survive.

The career of Mr. Phillips was most successful and honorable, and his life in its many phases was such as to command always the respect and confidence of those with whom he was brought into contact. He was a busy man of affairs, and his times of relaxation were from the first few and far between; in fact, with the exception of a vacation trip with his family to Europe in 1881 and a brief excursion to California, I do not recall any period during the years of my acquaintance with him when he was not hard at work, until the relentless disease, whose victim he became, laid its heavy hand upon him.

Mr. Phillips was a good lawyer, a keen observer of men and things, generally correct in his judgment of character and motive, and admirable in the preparation and presentation of a case. He was not an eloquent advocate, by no means an orator, but his arguments were logical and his delivery earnest and impressive. He fully realized both the weak and strong points in his case, and his conclusion as to the probable effect of certain evidence upon the minds of the jury was often surprising in its accuracy. He studied his case before he tried it, and understood it thoroughly when he entered the court room. His clients were numerous and the strain of his work often severe. For many years he was the attorney of the New York and New England Railroad Company, and conducted for them a large number of cases. He was an honest lawyer, above all mean and unworthy expedients, and most courteous withal.

Mr. Phillips was prominent outside the sphere of his profession. He was assistant clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1853, and in 1860, 1861 and 1872 he was a member of that body. In 1862, 1863 and 1879 he represented in the Senate the Fourteenth District, acting as chairman of the judiciary committee during the last two years of his service there and as president pro tem. in 1879. He was re-elected in 1880, but shortly after the opening of the session resigned on account of the pressure of legal business.

In local affairs Mr. Phillips manifested the deepest interest; he was liberal and public spirited, ever ready to aid in the furtherance of any object promotive of the growth and the prosperity of the town; he was one of the founders of the First National Bank of Putnam and until the very last its president. He was also one of the corporators and trustees of the Putnam Savings Bank.

In all the relations of private life his bearing was such as to win the respect of all with whom he had intercourse. He was a most affectionate husband and father, devoted to his home and family, never so happy as when under his own roof with those he loved about him. He was a kind neighbor and a warm and constant friend.

Mr. Phillips for many years prior to his decease was a consistent member of the Congregational Church in Putnam and one of its most active and liberal supporters. His pastor for many years, the Rev. C. S. Brooks, in his funeral address thus refers to the religious side of his character and his life. "He saw into and sensed the divineness of life and of eternal things and opened up the Godward side of his nature to them, and while he gave himself to a proper worldliness he joined with it attention to and prosecution of that other-worldliness which rounds our experience and makes us, as we ought to be, men of time and men of eternity." The bar of his state knew Mr. Phillips well, and I am sure will mourn his untimely departure from among us no less keenly than do those who recognized and appreciated the manly qualities exhibited by him in lines of thought and activity other than those peculiar to the forum.

*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Charles E. Searls, Esq. of the Windham County bar. 

Phillips, Richard H.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 161, pages 609 - 612

Richard Henry Phillips, son of Joseph Henry and Clara Fiege Phillips, was born on March 9, 1890, in a house built by his grandfather on Congress Street in Hartford. He was graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1908, Yale College in 1912 and Columbia Law School in 1914. He was admitted to the Bar in that year. During the difficulties with Mexico just preceding the First World War, he served in Troop B, Connecticut Cavalry, on the Mexican Border and continued his military service overseas in the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War, where he saw active service at the front. After an honorable discharge as a second lieutenant in the 301st Field Artillery at the end of the war, he returned to Hartford. He started to practice law with the firm of Hewes, Phillips and Lindsey, where he continued in active practice until June, 1929, when he was appointed Reporter of Judicial Decisions of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, succeeding John M. Comley. The Chief Justice at that time was George W. Wheeler of Bridgeport, and his associates were William M. Maltbie, Frank D. Haines, George E. Hinman, and John W. Banks.

To the exacting work of the Reporter of Judicial Decisions, Judge Phillips gave his wholehearted devotion. He brought to the task a brilliant legal mind and an interest and energy that were indefatigable. He was a worthy successor to such able predecessors in that important office as John Hooker and James P. Andrews. We older members of the Bar remember struggling with Baldwin's Digest and Andrews and Fowler's Index-Digest in our research of Connecticut cases. Judge Phillips devoted his keen mind and great capacity for hard work to the creation of a new digest for Connecticut, the Connecticut Digest, first published in 1945. This Digest has become an invaluable tool to the Connecticut Bench and Bar in their research of Connecticut case law. It is the general consensus of the Bar that this Digest is better in every respect that the digests of cases of other state courts. Judge Phillips devoted long hours in the office and at home to the careful and thorough pursuit of this task, at the same time compiling excellent headnotes for the decisions of the Connecticut Supreme Court as they were published in the Connecticut Reports. Moreover, he was secretary of the Connecticut Judicial Council for twenty-five years.

Despite the burdensome work which he undertook as Reporter of Judicial Decisions, that task did not engage all of his energies and abilities. He wrote and had published several short stories and self-illustrated articles on gardening, fishing and other topics which appeared in national magazines. He was a zealous gardener and as soon as the frost was out of the ground, one could find him with his hands in the earth, which he loved and understood. His artistic talents found an outlet in piano playing and painting. One of his paintings was exhibited in the Avery Memorial of the Wadsworth Atheneum. He was a gourmet cook, to the delight of his friends.

On October 24, 1925, he married Marion Wyper Stoughton, a widow whose two children, Jean and Betty, he loved and considered as his own. A daughter, Marion, and a son, Richard, were born of this marriage. Mrs. Phillips, a woman of warm personality with a rich sense of humor, had varied interests and multiple social, charitable and intellectual pursuits which paralleled those of her husband. Her knowledge and love of gardening, golf, travel and music provided in Judge Phillips' life the perfect complement which created a truly happy marriage. Judge Phillips loved to travel and did so extensively in Europe and this country, in Canada, Alaska and Hawaii. Judge Phillips skied in Switzerland, fished in Ireland, hunted in this country, swam, played golf, bowled, skated, curled, and put into play constantly the rich resources of his nature. He and Mrs. Phillips were devoted, loving parents.

A token of the appreciation of the Bench and Bar for Judge Phillip's work as a Reporter of Judicial Decisions is contained in an excerpt from a letter written by Chief Justice Allyn L. Brown and published in Volume 139 of the Connecticut Reports at the time of Judge Phillips' retirement from the office of Reporter of Judicial Decisions to accept an appointment to the Superior Court: "The discharge of your duty as Reporter...has been outstanding and in accord with the very best tradition of that high and vital office of the Court. Your keen power of analysis, your capacity for clear logical thinking, your talent for terse, lucid and exact expression, your scholarly instinct, your continued ability to function notwithstanding the exacting, continuous and ever urgent nature of the work, your understanding cooperation with the Judges, and your sound knowledge of fundamental legal principles, have been some of the qualities which have contributed to your notable success as Reporter..."

Judge Phillips' appointment to the Superior Court Bench on September 24, 1953, was applauded by the members of the Bar, for they all knew of his eminent qualifications to hold judicial office. On the Bench he was patient, considerate, kindly to witness and counsel, never making any attempt to demonstrate his wide knowledge of Connecticut statute and case law. The Bar knew that in any case presented to Judge Phillips, there was a man who was capable of grasping and sifting complicated facts to arrive at the decisive issues of fact, to which there would applied the correct rule of law.

Judge Phillips retired from the Superior Court Bench on March 9, 1960, under the constitutional limitation as to age. He immediately became active as a State Referee and heard and decided a large number of cases. Despite his work as a State Referee, he undertook at once a review of the Connecticut Practice Book, a demanding and exhausting task to which he brought his broad knowledge and experience to the production of a thoroughly commendable result. He was active in creating the Family Relations Division of the Superior Court.

There was a deep sense of charity in Judge Phillips' character. For many years he was an active member of the board of trustees of the Open Hearth Association, which he never failed to visit at Christmas time, offering a prayer and providing all the men with tobacco. For many years he sponsored a prisoner in the Connecticut State Prison to whom he gave appropriate help and kindly interest. He worked hard for the Connecticut Society for the Prevention of Blindness. He and Mrs. Phillips sponsored a Korean child. He was a deeply religious man and served as a deacon of the First Church of Christ Congregational in Farmington. In 1964 and 1965, owing to the illness of William S. Locke, who was then the Reporter of Judicial Decisions, Judge Phillips volunteered to take up temporarily the task of that office again and did so.

This recital of his career demonstrates a man of high intelligence, unusual capacities and broad character. He was fastidious, meticulous, a fighter against disorder and violence. He maintained a strict discipline on his own life. His manner was somewhat unique. He was unusually straightforward and decisive; he said precisely what he thought without quibble or apology. His listener might not be pleased, but he went away knowing that he had heard the truth from a man who knew well what truth was.

Judge Phillips was a delightful companion. While he was Reporter of Judicial Decisions for the Supreme Court and while he was on the bench, his associates sought him out as a luncheon companion and often enjoyed the warm and generous hospitality of his home, where the food was always excellent and the conversations with "Marion and Dick" lively and enlightening. For most of his life he was beset with ill health and confinement to the hospital for medical and surgical attention became more and more frequent as he grew older. Withal, no one ever heard a complaint of pain or misfortune or ill health pass his lips, nor did his illness halt his work. He was a stoic in the finest and best sense of that strong word. He loved the law and lawyers. He was a scholar and a gentleman of the highest order. Few men in the long history of the Connecticut Bar have made so great a contribution to legal knowledge and procedure as has Judge Phillips. He truly ranks among our very best.

Judge Phillips died on June 15, 1971. He left his beloved wife, Marion, and the children, Mrs. Jean Stoughton Carlson of Merced, California; Mrs. Elizabeth Stoughton Kelly of Farmington, Connecticut; Mrs. Marion Phillips Campbell of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Richard Hazard Phillips of Newburgh, New York; and ten grandchildren.

"Dick" Phillips was like a tree on a mountain ridge in the forest that stands tall and straight among its fellows and falling, leaves a big empty space in the line of tree tops against the sky.

*Prepared by Hon. Raymond E. Baldwin, of Middletown.

Pickett, Walter M.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 148, pages 746 - 747

Walter Mason Pickett, distinguished member of the bench and bar and a retired judge of the Superior Court, was born in New Preston, Connecticut, on December 2, 1885. He was the son of the late Charles Whittlesey and Marie Sperry Pickett. For many years, his father was the editor in chief of "The New Haven Times Leader."

Judge Pickett attended the New Haven grade school and was graduated from Hillhouse High School and, in 1908, Yale Law School. During World War I, he enlisted in the state guard, in which he served as a cavalry sergeant in Troop A, New Haven. Judge Pickett was a member of the charter commission in 1920, and from 1925 to 1926 he was counsel for the New Haven board of education. He served as assistant state's attorney for New Haven County from March, 1909, to February, 1925, when he was appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He continued as a judge of that court until June 29, 1955, at which time he became a Superior Court judge. On December 2, 1955, he retired under the constitutional limitation as to age. He served as a state referee until his death on June 24, 1961.

Judge Pickett was a member of the First Congregational Church of Washington, Connecticut. He was a Thirty-second Degree Mason and a Past Grand Master of the Masons of Connecticut.

As a judge, he was very prompt in rendering his decisions. This was owing to the fact that his keen mind was able to grasp the facts and the basic issues quickly. He was a recognized authority on criminal law and procedure. He was very effective in disposing of cases and was keenly conscious of the fact that justice delayed is justice denied. He wasted no time himself and was impatient of any unwarranted delays by others.

On April 26, 1910, he was married to Kathryn Tomlinson Baldwin. Four children were born to them: Walter M. Pickett, Jr., of New Preston, an attorney: Mrs. Marie P. Moore and Mrs. Sara P. Hotchkiss of Washington, Connecticut; and Mrs. Louise P. Waterman of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Judge Pickett had six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The death of his wife, just one year prior to his own, was a severe blow from which he never fully recovered. He took great pride and pleasure in his family. No matter how great his court assignment was from his home, he always drove home every night regardless of the weather.

Almost by necessity, certainly by tradition, a judge finds himself cut off from many areas of life which are normal for others. Judge Pickett, partly from choice and partly from conscientious scruples, seemed to have closed even more doors than he needed to. He detested any form of insincerity, so much so that sometimes even a gesture of friendly appreciation might be taken only with a grain of salt, unless he was very sure that no flattery was intended. A natural wit and a rare facility with words helped him to conceal a warmth and a kindliness, which he seemed to feel were alien to the judicial temper and which only his close friends were able to see. He leaned over backward to avoid being influenced by personal likes or dislikes and particularly by the strength or weakness of an advocate appearing before him. His aim was pure justice, not complicated by sentiment or expediency. To reach this goal, he often walked a lonely road and missed many a pleasant bypath. So high a dedication can only command a deep respect, not only for results in terms of the law but also for an integrity which permitted no interference and no compromise with principle.

*Prepared by Hon Richard S. Swain, of Bridgeport. 

Pitkin, Timothy

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 26

Born at Farmington, Ct., January 21st, 1766; educated at Yale-College where he graduated in 1785; read law first with Oliver Ellsworth, Esq., and afterwards, for a short time, with William Judd, Esq., of Farmington. He was admitted to the bar, at Hartford, in 1788, and immediately commenced the practice of law in his native place. In May, 1790, he was a representative from the town of Farmington, in the General Assembly; and between that time and October, 1805, he was elected to that station twenty-two times, being clerk of the house at four sessions, and speaker, at six. In December, 1805, he took his seat in the Congress of the United States, as a representative from this state, and retained that seat, by successive elections, until March, 1819.

He, with Gov. Treadwell as his colleague, was a member of the convention that formed the Constitution of this state and was afterwards a representative from the town of Farmington in the General Assembly, in the years 1820, 1, 2 and 3.

Much of his time, while he was in Congress, and for some years afterwards, was devoted to the statistics and history of his country. In 1816, he published his "Statistical View of the Commerce of the United States;" of which a second edition was printed the next year. In 1828, he published his "Political and Civil History of the United States, from the peace of 1763, to the close of President Washington's administration in 1797." In 1829, the corporation of Yale-College conferred on him the honourary degree of LL. D.

He continued to reside at Farmington until some time in the year 1835, when he removed to New-Haven, and remained there one year; at the expiration of which, he removed to Utica, N. Y., here he still resides, in the family of his daughter.

Platt, Johnson T.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 58, pages 601 - 603

JOHNSON TUTTLE PLATT was born in Newtown, Conn., January 12th, 1844. He attended the common schools of the neighborhood until about nine years of age. The next four or five years he went to various select schools in Fairfield County, the last two years being spent at the Staples Academy, Easton. In the spring of 1859 he had a severe illness, from which he did not recover sufficiently to permit his leaving home till the spring of 1863. This illness prevented him from entering college, but he was able, for a considerable part of the time, to continue his studies, being however under no instructor. In 1863 he entered the Harvard Law School, and was graduated therefrom in 1865. He was admitted to the bar in Boston, January 11th, 1865, and for six months afterwards studied in the office of the Hon. James D. Colt, of Pittsfield, Mass., who afterwards became one of the judges of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. In the fall of 1865 he came to New Haven, where the remainder of his busy and useful life was passed. He early took a high standing at the New Haven County bar, and made a place for himself both in his profession and in the community. Upon the reorganization of the Yale Law School he was made one of the instructors in 1869, and in 1872 was appointed full professor. In this year he received the degree of A. M. from Yale College. His original department of instruction was equity and pleadings; but in the later years of his professorship instruction in torts was added, while his broader studies into the origin and science of the law caused him to be assigned the topics of general jurisprudence and the history of law, in both the. regular and the graduate courses.

Mr. Platt's intelligence was of a high and very active character and he was early interested in all the questions of a political or social nature that were agitating the public. Naturally he was called upon to fill various local offices and for many years was actively connected with the city government of New Haven. He was repeatedly a member of the Common Council, first as a councilman and later as an alderman. In 1874 he was appointed corporation counsel. Upon the death of the late E. K. Foster he was made register in bankruptcy for the New Haven district in 1877. He had been for some time a United States commissioner, having received that appointment in 1870, which was followed shortly by the appointment of master in chancery.

While Mr. Platt was above all things a lawyer, and was at once proud and fond of his profession, his culture and reading were exceptionally broad and general. His interest in active affairs was most practical, and the ordinances of the city of New Haven and the statutes of the state bear the imprint of this interest. He was instrumental in a large degree in the institution of the sanitary organization under which New Haven now lives, and also in the establishment of its board of harbor commissioners. He was deeply interested in the matter of the proper drafting of the statute law, and on this topic made a notable report to the Connecticut State Bar Association. He was one of the original members of this organization, and always took an active part in its deliberations, and was prominent in the suggestion of directions in which it could be of practical benefit to the profession and to the state.

As a lawyer Mr. Platt was most thoroughly trained, and was a master of the best methods of the profession. His knowledge of the principles and theory of the law was based deep upon an intimate acquaintance with its original sources, while he had a ready command of the resources of practice. He was consequently a good counsellor and a good fighter. He was intensely loyal to his client, and more than conscientious in his fulfillment of every duty to him. In his management of court cases he was cautious, shrewd and ready, never losing sight of his client's interest in the excitement of a professional contest, exhibiting an unusual knowledge of human nature, and always impressing the court or the jury with his sincerity and honesty of purpose and with his complete mastery of his cases. He was never known to go into court except after the most careful preparation.

As an instructor in the law school he left upon the hundreds of young men who in the twenty-one years of his instruction came under his care, the impression of a gentle, helpful, sympathetic and thorough scholar. His sympathy with young men was very marked and very true. And it was a sympathy that did not spend itself in words, but was evidenced, as those who were under him call abundantly testify, by unnumbered deeds of the sincerest kindness. He enjoyed his office of teaching, not only because the occupation was congenial to his taste as a scholar, but because it gave him so free an opportunity of expressing that active sympathy with others which was so individual a feature of his character, and which, in the ordinary work of his practice, he was so often called upon to restrain or disguise.

In his personal character and private life all who came into contact with Mr. Platt were impressed with his gentleness, his genial social traits, and his sensitive honor. He had hosts of friends because he was sincerely friendly. He loved the converse of his fellow-man, and this love was not limited by age or condition. And he was as well an enthusiastic lover of the out-of-door life of nature. Until within a short time of his death he was a constant walker, and the most delightful of companions in the fields and woods. Here he was at home. The trees and the flowers of the fields were his friends. He knew them all. And here, too, he best made himself known to his companions. Here it was that his wide acquaintance with the literature of imagination and sentiment, especially of poetry, of which he was passionately fond, showed itself. With a prodigious memory, a delicate and accurate taste, and a sure judgment, he had made the whole range of English poetry his own, and could call forth from his treasures at any time, with rare aptness, just that which was fitting to the time or place. His was also a deeply religious nature, although he could never fully accept any of the current formulations of faith. His acquaintance with the Bible and with religious literature, especially of the more highly spiritual and even mystical types, was wide and thorough. He was, however, averse to ready expression on subjects of this character.

Mr. Platt's death occurred very suddenly on the twenty-third of January, 1890. He was stricken down with apoplexy, just as he was entering his office, and lived but four hours after the attack. He was buried in the cemetery of his native town, Newtown, a place for which he always cherished an enthusiastic affection.

*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Morris F. Tyler, Esq., of the New Haven bar. 

Platt, Orville H.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 79, pages 729 - 730

ORVILLE HITCHCOCK PLATT was born in Washington, Connecticut, July 19, 1827, and died at his country home there, April 21st, 1905. He attended, as a boy, the school in his native place afterward widely known as "the Gunnery," and was admitted to the bar at Litchfield county in 1849. He then opened a law office in Philadelphia, but after two years returned to Connecticut and engaged in the practice of his profession at Meriden, of which city he remained an inhabitant through life. He was successively clerk of the State Senate, Secretary of the State, a Senator, a member of the House of Representatives in 1864 and 1869 (in the latter year being its Speaker) and State's Attorney for New Haven County from 1877 to 1879, when he was elected to the Senate of the United States. Of that body he continued to be a member uninterruptedly until his death. He was from time to time upon its committees of finance, Indian affairs, the judiciary, private land claims, and patents, and, after the relinquishment by Spain of her sovereignty over Cuba, from which were reported the measures which definitely settled the character of those relations, and are known as the "Platt amendments."

Senator Platt's legal training served him well in his work as a Senator. He had a practical sagacity and sound common sense that with its aid made him generally recognized as a safe guide in large affairs, as well as in lesser ones. During the last ten years of his service in the Senate there were very few in that body who had an equal in influence in shaping legislation.

He took his election to the Senate not as a reward to be enjoyed, but as an opportunity to be made the most of. In committee and out of committee he was a faithful worker. He entered on old age without claiming its privileges, and without feeling its weaknesses. His influence was greater, his position higher, after he had passed the age of seventy, than it had ever been. He was one of those in whom the process of education never stops till life stops. Largely his own teacher from boyhood on, his horizon was always extending.

In one thing he never changed. As boy and man, as a member of the bar and a member of the Senate, his honesty of purpose and honesty of word held the perfect confidence of all who knew him.

History was one of his favorite studies, and two valuable papers from his pen are contained in Vol. VI of the Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society. In 1889 he received the degree of LL.D. from Yale University.

Senator Platt had an extensive practice before entering the Senate, and occasionally afterward appeared in important causes in the courts of Connecticut. He was plain and direct in his manner of argument, careful in preparation for it, and well able to see where the case would be apt to turn.

*Prepared by Hon. S. E. Baldwin at the request of the Reporter.

Pond, Philip

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 133, pages 741 - 744

Philip Pond, son of Jonathan W. and Charlotte L. (White) Pond was born in New Haven on August 8, 1866. He came from a very old New England family of English lineage. His father was a direct descendant of Samuel Pond, and his mother was a direct descendant of Elder John White, one of the first settlers of New England. He had one brother, Walter Pond, a New Haven lawyer who died in 1923.

Mr. Pond received his early education in New Haven public schools, including high school, and entered Yale University as a member of the class of 1888, obtaining his B. A. degree in that year. He then entered the Yale Law School and received his LL. B. degree in 1890. For twenty years Mr. Pond was the secretary of his Yale College class.

On June 1, 1893, at Bolton, Connecticut, he married Harriet Hunt Sumner, a cousin of former Lieutenant Governor George C. Sumner and a representative of one of the oldest Connecticut families. After a brief but happy married life, Mrs. Pond passed away on July 14, 1894. On September 15, 1897, at New York City, Mr. Pond married Miss Elizabeth Bishop Giles, a native of New Jersey, also a representative of an old New England family, established at an early period in the colonization of the new world.

Mr. Pond was admitted to the bar of Connecticut in 1890 and during his long and active career as a lawyer served as assistant clerk of the Court of Common Pleas for New Haven county from April 1, 1901 to 1904, and as a deputy coroner under Eli Mix, coroner of New Haven county, from 1905 to 1908. For fifty-six years he was an active member of the New Haven County Bar Association, and he was its president from August 1, 1924, to October, 1927.

He entered upon the practice of his profession with the highest ethical concepts, from which, in his long career at the bar, he never deviated. He had a full appreciation of the obligations imposed upon one who enters that profession and recognized that equal and substantial justice between man and man is its ultimate object. He was a close and discriminating student, a man of sound judgment, and with an almost prophetic foresight of how a court of last resort would hold in almost any given case.

Physically he gave the impression of frailty, but he was, on the contrary, a man of great vitality and a prodigious worker not only in his profession, but in many civic, fraternal and community organizations. His restrained, keen, suave, considerate manner to all persons with whom he came in contact, together with his clear, calm, logical reasoning and his effective presentation of cases before either court or jury, soon caused him be recognized as one of the leading advocates in New Haven county.

The prominence or obscurity of his client, the amount involved, or the importance of the matter involved seemed to make little difference to him in preparation of his cases. He prepared them all with the same meticulous care. Not withstanding the terrific burden imposed upon him by his numerous private clients, he was never too busy to help a younger lawyer. He appeared to take a fatherly interest and to enjoy helping many of the younger and some of the older lawyers solve difficult problems which they felt could be better solved by a man of his standing and experience.

His interest in the acquisition of money, regardless of the type of case he was handling, was never so keen as to tempt him to charge anything more for his services than the actual, or what seemed to him the actual, value of the services rendered. Indeed, many of his clients and most of the bar were astonished at the meager charges he made for rendering important services. His motto seemed to be "Service above Self," and he was one of the lawyers who believed that a large practice at small fees was more to be desired than a selected practice at large fees.

In the trial of a case he handled all witnesses with politeness and extreme consideration and never attempted to browbeat or intimidate them. There was nothing blatant about him, and in the courtroom or outside he seldom raised his voice above the ordinary conversational tone. He felt that the best way of ascertaining the truth from a witness was to handle the witness courteously, kindly, and upon the assumption that if the witness was making any misstatement he was making it not deliberately but unwittingly. Nevertheless he was adept in the art of cross-examination, and there were few lawyers who were more adept at arriving at the truth of a situation than he.

Supplementing his legal acumen, he had a broad human knowledge, and it can be truthfully said that the entire bench and bar of this state regarded him as one of the greatest trial lawyers and counselors in Connecticut. The admiration and affection in which he was held by the members of his profession, the community and the state were well shown at a dinner given in his honor at the Yale Law School on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his admission to the bar. At that dinner speakers included Chief Justice Maltbie, Governor Baldwin, local lawyers, and classmates.

Mr. Pond, in addition to being a great lawyer, was the type of man who rarely, if ever, offered any criticism of another other than constructive criticism. He was kindly and genial to all with whom he came in contact. He could be best described as a true New England gentleman, honored wherever he was known.

He was the senior member of the firm of Pond, Morgan, and Morse, consisting of Phillip Pond, Daniel D. Morgan and Joseph B. Morse, a partnership formed in 1931, and he continued to be a revered member of that firm until his death.

"His life was gentle, and the elements

So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up

And say to all the world "This was a man!'"

In religion, Phillip Pond was an Episcopalian and a member of St. Thomas Church and Trinity Church of New Haven. For many years he was a director of Grace Hospital. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the International Law Association, the Connecticut State Bar Association and the New Haven County Bar Association. He was also a member of the Old Fellows, the Quinnipiac Club, the Graduate Club, Mory's, the New Haven Lawn Club, the New Haven Country Club, and Phi Delta Phi, legal fraternity.

He died on December 21, 1946, and left only his wife surviving. Seldom has any lawyer been so universally loved and respected, not only by the bench and bar of the state but by laymen in all walks of life. No finer tribute could be paid to a man than the tribute paid to Phillip Pond by Senator Raymond E. Baldwin, who began his legal career as a legal associate of Mr. Pond, when he said; "A young lawyer could have no finer example at the bar than Phillip Pond always offered."

A fitting epitaph for his tombstone, were it permitted to substitute the name "Phil" for the name "Jim," could best be expressed in the language of that homely dialect poem by James Whitcomb Riley, written about a shopmate. It would read like this: "When God made Phil, I'll bet you He didn't do anything else that day but jes' set around and feel good."

*Prepared by Daniel D. Morgan, of the New Haven bar. 

Pratt, George

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 42, pages 600 - 603

GEORGE PRATT died at his home in Norwich on the 4th of June, 1875, after a severe illness of nearly three weeks. He was in the full vigor of manhood, being forty-two years of age, and had arrived at a period of his professional career which was most honorable to himself, and gave promise of great eminence and usefulness for the future. Mr. Pratt was born in East Weymouth, Mass., on the 12th of October, 1832. He received such early education as the public schools of his native town afforded, with such as was derived from diligent and omniverous reading. His literary tastes were developed early, and in his very boyhood he not only read books of the best class, but was an author himself in a limited way, and both prose and poetry from his pen found their way into the columns of the periodical press. East Weymouth was a shoe-making village, and, like many of the young men of the place, Mr. Pratt learned the trade, and worked at it for several years in the intervals of attending school and teaching. By this and other means he supported himself entirely after the age of ten years, besides contributing to family expenses, and he also obtained a portion of the funds which afterwards procured for him a liberal education.

Having gone through the several grades of the public schools with brilliant success, Mr. Pratt prepared for college at the Providence Conference Seminary, East Greenwich, R. I., and entered Wesleyan University, at Middletown, in 1851. He left that institution, however, in Freshman year, and began teaching school, having become possessed of the idea that his college training gave him no sufficient tax and discipline, and that his time might be better employed in purely self-education. Nevertheless he was persuaded to make a fresh trial, and entered the Freshman Class at Yale in 1853. He was quite inadequately fitted, according to the Yale standard at that time, and his deficiency in this respect proved a disadvantage during his collegiate course. He, however, graduated with an average standing in scholarship, and with a rank among the best in his class for literary and forensic ability. After graduation he taught school for a short time in the state of New York, employing his leisure hours in the study of the law. In 1858 he removed to Salem, in this state, and entered the law office of the Hon. John T. Wait at Norwich Town as a student. He was admitted to the bar in April, 1859, and in 1860 opened a law office in Norwich. His industry and steady application to business, added to his native ability and sterling character, caused him to rise rapidly in his profession. In a few years he acquired an active practice, and during several years prior to his death he was engaged in most of the causes of importance in the eastern section of the state. He was devoted to his profession, and was earnest and untiring in its pursuit. To a disciplined mind and a comprehensive legal knowledge, he added sound judgment, practical tact, and clear discrimination. He had a habit of mind which stood him in good stead both professionally and in his literary studies - a habit of mentally cataloguing and retaining in memory such sources of information as fell under his notice, so that one could rarely question him on a topic concerning which, if he had not personal knowledge, he had not mentally noted a trustworthy authority. As an advocate he was earnest, direct and forcible, rather than eloquent or showy. His arguments were always listened to with great attention by the court. The Connecticut Reports for the last ten or twelve years furnish ample testimony to the thoroughness and ability with which he prepared and prosecuted cases before the Supreme Court of Errors. He was a man of great discretion and fidelity in business trusts, and was counsel to some of the leading business institutions of the city of his residence. At the time of his death he occupied a position in the front rank of his profession in the state, and had acquired a large and lucrative practice.

Mr. Pratt's chosen career was professional rather than political. He was, however, elected to the General Assembly in 1860 by the Republicans of the town of Salem, and in the years 1864, 1865, and 1869, he was one of the representatives of Norwich in the same body. During his legislative service he was a member of several of the important committees. He was an assiduous worker both in the committee room and in the House, courting labor, and thoroughly informing himself upon every important current question. He was the author of several measures of consequence, among which may be mentioned the registry and the flowage laws. He was, on both the occasions when the question first came up, one of the most ardent advocates of the impartial suffrage amendment to the Constitution of Connecticut. This was the only public office held by Mr. Pratt, if his six years term of service on the Board of Education be excepted, and also the position of corporation council which he held at the time of his death.

From this sketch of Mr. Pratt's life it will be seen that he was, in a proper sense of the term, a self-made man. He was ignorant of the art of wasting time, and had an utter distaste for all forms of dissipation, so that in college (as in his subsequent life) he maintained an unblemished moral character and acquired those habits of patient and constant application which distinguished him ever after. He was naturally a devout man. Brought up Methodist, he entered the Episcopal communion during his senior year in college. He was several years a warden of Trinity Church, Norwich, and superintendent of its Sunday-school. He clung with peculiar tenacity to his beliefs, and never permitted a cherished article of faith to be assailed in his presence without defence. Religion was with him a matter of principle rather than sentiment, and duty was never performed in a merely formal or perfunctory manner.

He was public spirited in a high degree, and was always awake to all things concerning the general welfare. He was an earnest friend of the public school system, and served actively and usefully on the Board of Education. He was chosen a trustee of the Otis Library in place of the deceased Senator Buckingham. He was prominently connected with all important public interests, and in matters relating to schools, libraries, and other institutions affecting the public improvement, he exercised a lively solicitude.

Mr. Pratt had little of the political partizan in him, though his convictions were decided and fervent. He had a thorough contempt for dishonesty and artifice in public life, and though by nature ambitious, scorned to purchase political honors by any sacrifice of his personal independence, or his principles, or by any catering to popular prejudice. He was well informed in political affairs, and was unusually qualified for a public servant.

Aside from his profession he had decided literary tastes, which from his boyhood he never ceased to cultivate. He was the author of many pamphlets and addresses, and, in former years especially, of many graceful poems and miscellaneous writings. He always made a point of interesting himself in some special subject of study and investigation - church history, political economy, colonial history, &c. During several of his later years he had been collecting material for a history of the period immediately preceding the American Revolution. A considerable portion of this work was arranged and partially composed, although, according to his usual habit of literary work, none of it was committed to paper. There were few if any men in his own community whose general reading was more extensive. Even his diversions, aside from his frolicsome hours with his children, were of a decided literary and studious cast.

The sunnier side of Mr. Pratt's character was best known to his immediate family and intimate friends. While a most genial companion in his chosen society, he often presented in public a quiet and abstracted, even reserved, manner. But he was one of the truest friends who ever lived, and one of the most faithful confidants. The circumstances of his life amply explain many characteristics of his outward appearance, which presented him more to casual public view as the active, indefatigable, pushing lawyer, than the genial and true hearted man he was. His success in life has in it a lesson and an encouragement for all young men, in however humble circumstances. It was due rather to the sterling qualities beneath the surface of his character than to those more apparent traits which may have been popularly presumed to be the secret of it. He was not at all aided by adventitious circumstances, but was a fair example of one who, by strict adherence to the homely and wholesome maxims which too many young men despise, gained a legitimate reward.

During his residence in Salem Mr. Pratt was married to Sarah V., daughter of the Hon. Oramel Whittlesey, of that town. She survives him, with three sons and two daughters. His remains were laid to rest in the private burial ground of the Whittlesey family in Salem.

*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by Mr. W. H. W. Campbell, of Norwich. 

Prentice, Samuel O.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 104, pages 750 - 752

SAMUEL OSCAR PRENTICE, born at North Stonington, Conn., August 8th, 1850, the son of Chester Smith and Lucy (Crary) Prentice, died at his home in Hartford on November 2d, 1924, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.

From an excellent ancestry, traceable in its collateral branches to Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower, Samuel undoubtedly inherited one of his characteristic traits—a rigid, unswerving devotion to duty—which was perhaps the dominant note in his long and useful life.

His education, begun in the schools of North Stonington, was continued at the Norwich Free Academy, then at Yale College, from which he was graduated in the class of 1873, and concluded by a two-years’ course in the Yale Law School, after which, in June, 1875, he entered the bar of Connecticut. While taking his law-school course he taught in the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven.

In September, 1875, he came to Hartford and began practice in the office of Chamberlin, Hall and White. The following year he formed a partnership with Elisha Johnson, a much older man, which lasted until his appointment as a judge of the Superior Court in 1889. During this period of thirteen years of active practice, Samuel was interested in the State militia—at one time Captain of Company K—and took part also in Republican politics. He was City Attorney from 1882 to 1889, and was the executive secretary of Governor Bulkeley in 1889 until he went upon the bench.

The life of a Superior Court judge is burdensome and exacting, but Judge Prentice’s equipment, mental and physical, enabled him to discharge his official duties not indeed without study and research but without undue nervous strain or worry. Long-continued training or discipline of his intellectual faculties, reinforced by processes of straight, clear and logical thinking, led to conclusions which were but seldom found at fault when tested by legal principles applied by an appellate court. His instructions to the jury were expressed in felicitous terms readily comprehended by them; his rulings upon questions of evidence were seldom erroneous, and gradually tended to greater liberality in the admission of testimony as the years went by; while his demeanor on the bench, authoritative and dignified, was so absolutely directed to the discovery of the truth, to the establishment of justice, that he won the confidence not only of litigants, but the esteem and good will of the public. He could easily have been elected Governor of the State upon his retirement from the bench had he been willing to accept a nomination.

An experience of twelve years upon the Superior Court bench cannot but enlarge one’s outlook on life, while at the same time it serves to sharpen one’s powers of observation, analysis and deduction; and in this respect Judge Prentice was no exception; so that when his promotion came he was singularly well prepared for the discharge of the duties of the higher station.

In October, 1901, upon the resignation of Chief Justice Andrews, Judge Prentice became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, and later, upon the death of Chief Justice Hall (January 15th, 1913) the Chief Justice of that court; and here for twenty years and until his retirement at seventy, on August 8th, 1920, his efforts enhanced the already high standing of that tribunal, and enriched the law reports of Connecticut with written opinions which were not only sound and illuminating in their exposition of legal principles, but were unsurpassed in stateliness of form and vigour of expression. No one can read these opinions without recognizing them as the product of a logical and a limpid mind. He wrote as he thought, clearly and concisely, and his facilities of expression were excellent. His opinions were never superficial, they always went to the root of the subject and reflect study and meditation, for such was the habit of the man. While reasonably tenacious of his own views, he had no obstinate pride of opinion, and invariably sought to reach a unanimous result whenever that was a possibility. In private as well as in his professional life, he impressed all who came in contact with him, with his absolute integrity, moral and intellectual.

It only remains to add a line respecting his nonprofessional and domestic life. Judge Prentice had almost no near relatives, and did not marry until he was fifty years old (April 24th, 1901). His wife, Ann Combe Post, daughter of Andrew J. Post of Jersey City, had traits that admirably supplemented his own: a sincere, placid, self-reliant but not self-assertive nature, a robust common sense conforming to her physical make-up, and a loving kindness that won her countless friends. With her, for twenty years or more, Judge Prentice spent the happiest hours of his life, until her untimely death July 1st, 1924, just four months before his own. A member of the Asylum Avenue Congregational Church for many years and for a long time one of its deacons, Judge Prentice was a religious man of a practical rather than a sentimental turn of mind. His scholarship and learning were recognized by the universities (LL.D. by Yale and by Trinity, 1913) and his services were in demand as an instructor and professor in the Yale Law School, as president of the Watkinson, and of the Hartford Public, libraries. He was also a member of the State Bar Examining Committee (1890-1913) and its chairman for five years, and for several years was president of the Connecticut Humane Society.

Connecticut has long been fortunate in the ability and high character of its judiciary, to which a brighter luster has been added by the life and labors of Chief Justice Prentice.

*Prepared by James P. Andrews, Esq., of the Hartford County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 74, page iii

Appointed [to the Supreme Court of Errors] June 12th, to take effect Oct. 1st, 1901.


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 86, page iii

Appointed Chief Justice February 20th, 1913. 


As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 94, page iv (also printed in volume 95, page iii)

Retired August 8th, 1920, under constitutional limitation as to age. 

Preston, Nathan

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 32

Was born at Woodbury, and a graduate of Yale-College, 1776; patriotically impelled, by the spirit of the times, he entered the army of the Revolution, and about 1780 was transferred to the commissary department. He was admitted to the bar, in 1782; and continued to practice law until about 1796.

He was a member of the House of Representatives, October, 1791, October, 1792, May, 1793, October, 1793, May, 1797, May, 1801, May, 1802, May, 1806, May, 1807, October, 1813, May, 1816, May, 1819.

He was appointed judge of probate in 1795, and continued to discharge the duties of that office until 1805. In 1818, he was appointed again, and acted in that capacity until his death, in September, 1822.

Pullman, John S.

As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 131, pages 725 - 726

John Stephenson Pullman died at his home in Bridgeport, on March 31, 1943, after a long illness. His father was the Reverend Joseph Pullman, D. D. (B. A. Wesleyan 1863), a Methodist Episcopal clergyman. His mother was Mary Elizabeth (Cooke) Pullman. He was born in New Haven on February 25, 1871.

He prepared for college at Wilbraham Academy, and from there entered Wesleyan in the class of 1892, where he attained not only a high degree of scholarship but was active in all undergraduate affairs. He was a member of Alpha Delta Phi and Phi Beta Kappa. His attachment for Wesleyan continued to the time of his death; he was one of its trustees from 1922 to 1943, and was secretary of the board from 1925 to 1943. In honor of his long service and his distinguished career, Wesleyan conferred upon him the degree of doctor of civil laws.

After graduation from college, Mr. Pullman taught Greek at Pennington Seminary for one year, but gave up teaching for business in Philadelphia. The following year, 1894, he registered at Yale Law School, and was graduated in 1896 with honors. He was admitted to the Fairfield County bar in the same year and continued in the active practice of law until shortly before his death, practicing as a member of Pullman and Marr (James Marr) 1904-1908; Canfield, Judson and Pullman (Charles S. Canfield and Stiles Judson) 1908-1919; and Pullman and Comley (William H. Comley and Arthur M. Comley) 1919-1943, in which firm were later associated W. Parker Seeley, Governor Raymond E. Baldwin, J. Kenneth Bradley and William Reeves.

Mr. Pullman was prosecuting attorney in the Bridgeport City Court from 1903 to 1907 and judge of the court from 1907 to 1909. From 1909 to 1913 he served as attorney for the city of Bridgeport, and in 1915 became chairman of the committee to revise the Bridgeport city charter.

From 1918 to 1943 he was very active in the affairs of the Bridgeport-People's Savings Bank, serving as a trustee and, for several years before his death, as vice president.

Among his other numerous activities were: Trustee of Bridgeport Hospital, 1921-1943; member of the board of associates of Junior College of Bridgeport, 1936-1943; chairman of Selective Service Board, Division No. 2, Bridgeport, 1917-1919; member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Bridgeport Bar Association, the State Bar Association of Connecticut, the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute. He served as director or trustee on many boards and was a member of many clubs and organizations.

On November 25, 1905, John S. Pullman and Mary Nickerson Lakin, of Topeka, Kansas, daughter of David Lakin and Mary (Ward) Lakin, were married. Their children are Mary Elizabeth, wife of Major DeWitt Dominick; Alice Lakin, wife of George B. Longstreth; Josephine Lakin, wife of the Reverend Luther Tucker; and John S. Pullman, Jr. In addition to his children, Mr. Pullman left his wife, who died on March 17, 1945, and ten grandchildren.

From the time he came to Bridgeport in 1893, Mr. Pullman was active in the affairs of the First Methodist Church, as treasurer of the board of trustees for many years. He gave very generously to the church, and in the present building the Pullman Memorial Chapel is a gift in memory of his father. In the chapel are the altar rail and the pulpit from which his father preached many years ago. They were brought from the old church and installed in their proper place in the Pullman Chapel.

At his death the board of trustees of the Church expressed the thoughts of his friends as follows:

"Many men live exemplary lives for three score and ten or more years. Not so many live the span allotted to man, making contacts with many groups, having varying interests, and at the same time hold the esteem and good will of all with whom they come in contact. John Stephenson Pullman was one of those rare souls who lived a life with a great diversity of interests, but through it all, made and kept friends, established an enviable reputation for uprightness of character and held the confidence and respect of the entire community."

Mr. Pullman was an outstanding lawyer. A host of friends and clients relied with faith on his advice and counsel. For his profession, his clients, the city and the state in which he lived, its many institutions and organizations, his college and for any who turned to him in need of assistance and wise counsel, he worked with devotion and industry.

He had versatility, wit and good humor which, with his wide experience and extensive associations, made him not only a delightful friend and companion but a commanding figure in any gathering. In his family circle he was undoubtedly at his best, and there he found his greatest delight and gave his greatest inspiration.

Judged by every standard, he was one of Connecticut's outstanding citizens.

*Prepared by Arthur M. Comley, of the Bridgeport bar. 

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